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FUND     GIVEN     IN     1891     BY 


3   1924  095   658   005 

Cornell  University 

The  original  of  tiiis  book  is  in 
the  Cornell  University  Library. 

There  are  no  known  copyright  restrictions  in 
the  United  States  on  the  use  of  the  text. 






^    t  i 














All  rights  reserved 

A.  /  zcnn 

COPTBIGBT,  1898, 


J.  S.  Gushing  »  Co.  —  Berwick  &  Smith 
Norwood  MasB.  U.S.A. 


Eo  Us  Wife 



Of  all  the  questions  which  have  interested  and  divided 
the  people  of  the  United  States,  none  since  the  foundation 
of  the  Federal  Union  has  been  so  important,  so  far-reaching, 
and  so  long  contested  as  slavery.  During  the  first  half  of 
the  nineteenth  century  the  other  great  national  questions 
were  nearly  all  economic  —  taxation,  currency,  banks,  trans- 
portation, lands,  —  and  they  had  a  strong  material  basis,  a 
flavor  of  self-interest ;  but  though  slavery  had  also  an 
economic  side,  the  reasons  for  the  onslaught  upon  it  were 
chiefly  moral.  The  first  objection  brought  by  the  slave- 
power  against  the  anti-slavery  propaganda  was  the  cry 
of  the  sacredness  of  vested  and  property  rights  against 
attack  by  sentimentalists ;  but  what  dignified  the  whole 
contest  was  the  very  fact  that  the  sentiment  for  human 
rights  was  at  the  bottom  of  it,  and  that  the  abolitionists  felt 
a  moral  responsibility  even  though  property  owners  suffered. 
The  slavery  question,  which  in  origin  was  sectional,  became 
national  as  the  moral  issues  grew  clearer ;  and  finally 
loomed  up  as  the  dominant  question  through  the  determina- 
tion of  both  sides  to  use  the  power  and  prestige  of  the 
national  government.  From  the  moral  agitation  came  also 
the  personal  element  in  the  struggle,  the  development  of 
strong  characters,  like  Calhoun,  Toombs,  Stephens  and 
Jefferson  Davis  on  one  side ;  like  Lundy,  Lovejoy,  Garrison, 
Giddings,  Sumner,  Chase,  John  Brown  and  Lincoln  on  the 

Among  the  many  weak  spots  in  the  system  of  slavery  none 
gave  such  opportunities  to  Northern  abolitionists  as  the  loco- 


1  motive  powers  of  the  slaves ;  a  "  thing  "  which  could  hear  its 
owner  talking  about  freedom,  a  "thing"  which  could  steer 
itself  Northward  and  avoid  the  "patterollers,"  was  a  thing  of 
impaired  value  as  a  machine,  however  intelligent  as  a  human 
'  being.  From  earliest  colonial  times  fugitive  slaves  helped  to 
make  slavery  inconvenient  and  expensive.  So  long  as  slavery 
was  general,  every  slaveholder  in  every  colony  was  a  member 
of  an  automatic  association  for  stopping  and  returning  fugi- 
tives ;  but,  from  the  Revolution  on,  the  fugitives  performed 
the  important  function  of  keeping  continually  before  the 
people  of  the  states  in  which  slavery  had  ceased,  the  fact 
that  it  continued  in  other  parts  of  the  Union.  Nevertheless, 
though  between  1777  and  1804  all  the  states  north  of  Mary- 
land threw  off  slavery,  the  free  states  covenanted  in  the 
Federal  Constitution  of  1787  to  interpose  no  obstacle  to  the 
recapture  of  fugitives  who  might  come  across  their  borders ; 
and  thus  continued  to  be  partners  in  the  system  of  slavery. 
From  the  first  there  was  reluctance  and  positive  opposition 
to  this  obligation ;  and  every  successful  capture  was  an 
object  lesson  to  communities  out  of  hearing  of  the  whip- 
ping-post and  out  of  sight  of  the  auction-block. 

In  aiding  fugitive  slaves  the  abolitionist  was  making  the 
most  effective  protest  against  the  continuance  of  slavery; 
but  he  was  also  doing  something  more  tangible ;  he  was 
helping  the  oppressed,  he  was  eluding  the  oppressor ;  and  at 
the  same  time  he  was  enjoying  the  most  romantic  and  excit- 
ing amusement  open  to  men  who  had  high  moral  standards. 
He  was  taking  risks,  defying  the  laws,  and  making  himself 
liable  to  punishment,  and  yet  could  glow  with  the  healthful 
pleasure  of  duty  done. 

To  this  element  of  the  personal  and  romantic  side  of  the 
slavery  contest  Professor  Siebert  has  devoted  himself  in  this 
,  book.     The  Underground  Raiboad  was  simply  a  form  of 
i  combined  defiance  of  national  laws,  on  the  ground  that  those 
laws  were  unjust   and  oppressive.     It  was  the  unconstitu- 
tional  but  logical  refusal   of  several  thousand   people   to 


acknowledge  that  they  owed  any  regard  to  slavery  or  were 
bound  to  look  on  fleeing  bondmen  as  the  property  of  the 
slaveholders,  no  matter  how  the  laws  read.  It  was  also 
a  practical  means  of  bringing  anti-slavery  principles  to  the 
attention  of  the  lukewarm  or  pro-slavery  people  in  free 
states;  and  of  convincing  the  South  that  the  abolitionist 
movement  was  sincere  and  effective.  Above  all,  the  Under- 
ground Railroad  was  the  opportunity  for  the  bold  and 
adventurous ;  it  had  the  excitement  of  piracy,  the  secrecy 
of  burglary,  the  daring  of  insurrection ;  to  the  pleasure  of 
relieving  the  poor  negro's  sufferings  it  added  the  triumph 
of  snapping'  one's  fingers  at  the  slave-catcher ;  it  developed 
coolness,  indifference  to  danger,  and  quickness  of  resource. 

The  first  task  of  the  historian  of  the  Underground  Railroad 
is  to  gather  his  material,  and  the  characteristic  of  this  book 
is  to  consider  the  whole  question  on  a  basis  of  established 
facts.  The  effort  is  timely;  for  there  are  still  living,  or  were 
living  when  the  work  began,  many  hundreds  of  persons  who 
knew  the  intimate  history  of  parts  of  the  former  secret  system 
of  transportation ;  the  book  is  most  timely,  for  these  invalu- 
able details  are  now  fast  disappearing  with  the  death  of  the 
actors  in  the  drama.  Professor  Siebert  has  rescued  and  put 
on  record  events  which  in  a  few  years  will  have  ceased  to  be 
in  the  memory  of  living  men.  He  has  done  for  the  history 
of  slavery  what  the  students  of  ballad  and  folk-lore  have 
done  for  literature  ;  he  has  collected  perishing  materials. 

Reminiscence  is  of  course,  standing  alone,  an  insufficient 
basis  for  historical  generalization.  On  that  point  Professor 
Siebert  has  been  carefid  to  explain  his  principle  :  he  does  not 
attempt  to  generalize  from  single  memories  not  otherwise 
substantiated,  but  to  use  reminiscences  which  confirm  each 
other,  to  search  out  telling  illustrations,  and  to  discover 
what  the  tendencies  were  from  numerous  contrasted  testi- 
monies. Actual  contemporary  records  are  scanty;  a  few  are 
here  preserved,  such  as  David  Putnam's  memorandum,  and 
Campbell's  letter ;  and  the  crispness  which  they  give  to  the 


narrative  makes  us  wisli  for  more.  Tlie  few  available  biog- 
raphies, autobiographies,  and  contemporary  memoirs  have 
been  diligently  sought  out  and  used;  and  no  variety  of 
sources  has  been  ignored  which  seemed  likely  to  throw  light 
on  the  subject.  The  ground  has  been  carefully  traversed ; 
and  it  is  not  likely  that  much  will  ever  be  added  to  the  body 
of  information  collected  by  Professor  Siebert.  His  list  of 
sources,  described  in  the  introductory  chapter  and  enumer- 
ated in  the  Appendices,  is  really  a  carefully  winnowed  bibliog- 
raphy of  the  contemporary  materials  on  slavery. 

The  book  is  practically  divided  into  four  parts  :  the  Rail- 
road itself  (Chapters  ii,  v);  the  railroad  hands  (Chapters 
iii,  iv,  vi);  the  freight  (Chapters  vii,  viii);  and  political 
relations  and  effects  (Chapters  ix,  x,  xi).  Perhaps  one  of 
the  most  interesting  contributions  to  our  knowledge  of  the 
subject  is  the  account  of  the  beginnings  of  the  system  of 
secret  and  systematic  aid  to  fugitives.  The  evidence  goes 
to  show  that  there  was  organization  in  Pennsylvania  before 
1800  ;  and  in  Ohio  soon  after  1815.  The  book  thus  becomes 
a  much-needed  guide  to  information  about  the  obscure 
anti-slavery  movement  which  preceded  William  Lloyd  Gar- 
rison, and  to  some  degree  prepared  the  way  for  him ;  and  it 
will  prove  a  source  for  the  historian  of  the  influence  of  the 
West  in  national  development.  As  yet  we  know  too  little 
of  the  anti-slavery  movement  which  so  profoundly  stirred 
the  Western  states,  including  Kentucky  and  Missouri,  and 
which  came  closely  into  contact  with  the  actual  conditions  of 
slavery.  As  Professor  Siebert  points  out,  most  of  the  early 
abolitionists  in  the  West  were  former  slaveholders  or  sons 
of  slaveholders. 

Professor  Siebert  has  applied  to  the  whole  subject  a  graphic 
form  of  illustration  which  is  at  the  same  time  a  test  of  his 
conclusions.  How  can  the  scattered  reminiscences  and 
records  of  escapes  in  widely  separated  states  be  shown  to 
refer  to  the  results  of  one  organized  method  ?  Plainly  by 
applying  them  to  the  actual  face  of  the  country,  so  as  to  see 


whether  the  alleged  centres  of  activity  have  a  geographical 
connection.  The  painstaking  map  of  the  lines  of  the  Under- 
ground Railroad  "  system  "  is  an  historical  contribution  of  a 
novel  kind ;  and  it  is  impossible  to  gainsay  its  evidence, 
which  is  expounded  in  detail  in  one  of  the  chapters  of  the 
book.  The  result  is  a  gratifying  proof  of  the  usefulness  of 
scientific  methods  in  historical  investigation ;  one  who  lived 
in  an  anti-slavery  community  before  the  Civil  War  is  fasci- 
nated by  tracing  the  hitherto  unknown  stretches  north  and 
south  from  the  centre  which  he  knew.  The  map  bears  testi- 
mony not  only  to  the  wide-spread  practice  of  aiding  fugitives, 
but  to  the  devotion  of  the  conductors  on  the  Underground 
Railroad.  How  useful  a  section  of  Mr.  Siebert's  map  would 
have  beeu  to  the  slave-catcher  in  the  50's,  when  so  many 
strange  negroes  were  appearing  and  disappearing  in  the  free 
states !  The  facts  presented  in  the  brief  compass  of  the  map 
would  have  been  of  immense  value  also  to  the  leaders  of  the 
Southern  Confederacy  in  1861,  as  a  confirmation  of  their 
argument  that  the  North  would  not  perform  its  constitutional 
duty  of  returning  the  fugitives ;  yet  there  is  no  record  in  this 
book  of  the  betraying  of  the  secrets  of  the  U.  G.  R.  R.  by 
any  person  in  the  service.  The  moral  bond  of  opposition  to 
the  whole  slave  power  kept  men  at  work  forwarding  fugi- 
tives by  a  road  of  which  they  themselves  knew  but  a  small 
portion.  The  political  philosophers  who  think  that  the 
Civil  War  might  have  been  averted  by  timely  concessions 
would  do  well  to  study  this  picture  of  the  wide  distribution 
of  persons  who  saw  no  peace  in  slavery. 

Amid  all  the  varieties  of  anti-slavery  men,  from  the 
Garrisonian  abolitionist  to  faint-hearted  slaveholders  like 
James  G.  Birney,  it  is  interesting  to  see  how  many  had  a 
share  in  the  Underground  Railroad  ;  and  how  many  earned 
a  reputation  as  heroes.  Professor  Siebert  has  gathered  the 
names  of  about  3,200  persons  known  to  have  been  engaged 
in  this  work  —  a  roll  of  honor  for  many  American  families. 
Everybody  knew   that   the   fugitives   were  aided  by  Fred 


Douglass,  Thomas  Wentworth  Higginson,  Gerrit  Smith, 
Joshua  Giddings,  John  Brown,  Levi  Coffin,  Thomas  Garrett 
and  Theodore  Parker ;  but  this  book  gives  us  some  account 
of  the  interest  of  men  like  Thaddeus  Stevens,  not  commonly 
counted  among  the  sons  of  the  prophets;  and  performs  a 
special  service  to  the  student  of  history  and  the  lover  of 
heroic  deeds,  by  the  brief  account  of  the  services  of  obscure 
persons  who  deserve  a  place  in  the  hearts  of  their  country- 
men. Men  like  Rev.  George  Bourne,  Rev.  James  Duncan 
and  Rev.  John  Rankin,  years  before  Garrison's  propaganda, 
had  begun  to  speak  and  publish  against  slavery,  and  to 
prepare  men's  minds  for  a  righteous  disregard  of  Fugitive 
Slave  Acts.  Joseph  Sider,  with  his  carefully  subdivided 
peddler's  wagon,  deserves  a  place  alongside  the  better 
known  Henry  Box  Brown.  The  thirty-five  thousand  stripes 
of  Calvin  Fairbank,  seventeen  years  a  convict  in  the 
Kentucky  penitentiary,  range  him  with  Love  joy  as  an 
anti-slavery  martyr.  Rev.  Charles  Torrey  had  in  the  work 
of  rousing  slaves  to  escape,  the  same  devotion  to  a  fatal  duty 
as  that  which  animated  John  Brown.  And  no  one  who  has 
ever  heard  Harriet  Tubman  describe  her  part  as  "  Moses  "  of 
the  fugitives  can  ever  forget  that  African  prophetess,  whose 
intense  vigor  is  relieved  by  a  shrewd  and  kindly  humanity. 
The  quiet  recital  of  the  facts  has  all  the  charm  of 
romance  to  the  passengers  on  the  Underground  Railroad : 
whether  travelling  by  night  in  a  procession  of  covered 
wagons,  or  boldly  by  day  in  disguises;  whether  boxed  up 
as  so  much  freight,  or  riding  on  passes  unhesitatingly  given 
by  abolitionist  directors  of  railroads ;  the  fugitives  in  these 
pages  rejoice  in  their  prospect  of  liberty.  The  road  sign 
near  Oberlin,  of  a  tiger  chasing  a  negro,  was  a  white  man's 
joke;  but  it  was  a  negro  who  said,  apropos  of  his  master's 
discouraging  account  of  Canada:  "They  put  some  extract 
onto  it  to  keep  us  from  comin'  ";  and  neither  Whittier  in 
his  poems,  nor  Harriet  Beecher  Stowe  in  her  novels, 
imagined  a  more  picturesque  incident  than  the  crossing  of 


the  Detroit  River  by  Fairfield's  "gang"  of  twenty-eight 
rescued  souls  singing,  "  I'm  on  my  way  to  Canada,  where 
colored  men  are  free,"  to  the  joyful  accompaniment  of  their 

To  the  settlements  of  fugitives  in  Canada  Professor 
Siebert  has  given  more  labor  than  appears  in  his  book; 
for  his  own  visits  supplement  the  accounts  of  earlier 
investigators ;  and  we  have  here  the  first  complete  account 
of  the  reception  of  the  negroes  in  Canada  and  their  progress 
in  civilization. 

Upon  the  general  question  of  the  political  effects  of  the 
Underground  Railroad,  the  book  adds  much  to  our  informa- 
tion, by  its  discussion  of  the  probable  numbers  of  fugitives, 
and  of  the  alarm  caused  in  the  slave  states  by  their  depart- 
ure. The  census  figures  of  1850  and  1860  are  shown  to  be 
wilfully  false ;  and  the  escape  of  thousands  of  persons  seems 
established  beyond  cavil.  Into  the  constitutional  question 
of  the  right  to  take  fugitives,  the  book  goes  with  less 
minuteness,  since  it  is  intended  to  be  a  contribution  to 
knowledge,  and  not  an  addition  to  the  abundant  literature 
on  the  legal  side  of  slavery. 

It  has  been  the  effort  of  Professor  Siebert  to  furnish  the 
means  for  settling  the  following  questions  :  the  origin  of  the 
system  of  aid  to  the  fugitives,  popularly  called  the  Under- 
ground Railroad ;  the  degree  of  formal  organization ;  methods 
of  procedure ;  geographical  extent  and  relations  ;  the  leaders 
and  heroes  of  the  movement;  the  behavior  of  the  fugitives 
on  their  way ;  the  effectiveness  of  the  settlement  in  Canada ; 
the  numbers  of  fugitives;  and  the  attitude  of  courts  and 
communities.  On  all  these  questions  he  furnishes  new  light ; 
and  he  appears  to  prove  his  concluding  statement  that  "  the 
Underground  Railroad  was  one  of  the  greatest  forces  which 
brought  on  the  Civil  War  and  thus  destroyed  slavery." 


Sources  or  the  Histoet  of  the  Underground  Railroad 


The  Underground  Road  as  a  subject  for  research      ....  1 

Obscurity  of  the  subject 2 

Books  dealing  with  the  subject 2 

Magazine  articles  on  the  Underground  Railroad        ....  5 

Newspaper  articles  on  the  subject 6 

Scarcity  of  contemporaneous  documents 7 

Reminiscences  the  chief  source 11 

The  value  of  reminiscences  illustrated 12 

Origin  and  Growth  of  the  Underground  Road 

Conditions  under  which  the  Underground  Road  originated 
The  disappearance  of  slavery  from  the  Northern  states    . 
Early  provisions  for  the  return  of  fugitive  slaves 
The  fugitive  slave  clause  in  the  Ordinance  of  1787   . 
The  fugitive  slave  clause  in  the  United  States  Constitution 

The  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1793 

The  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850 

Desire  for  freedom  among  the  slaves 

Knowledge  of  Canada  among  the  slaves     .... 
Some  local  factors  in  the  origin  of  the  underground  movement 
The  development  of  the  movement  in  eastern  Pennsylvania,  in  New 

Jersey,  and  in  New  York 

The  development  of  the  movement  in  the  New  England  states 

The  development  of  the  movement  in  the  West 

The  naming  of  the  Road 






The  Methods  of  the  Underground  Railroad 

Penalties  for  aiding  fugitive  slaves     . 

Social  contempt  suffered  by  abolitionists 

Espionage  practised  upon  abolitionists 

Rewards  for  the  capture  of  fugitives  and  the  kidnapping  of  aboli 

Devices  to  secure  secrecy    . 
Service  at  night  . 
Methods  of  communication 
Methods  of  conveyance 
Zigzag  and  variable  routes 
Places  of  concealment 
•Disguises     .... 
Informality  of  management 
Colored  and  white  agents   . 
'■-City  vigilance  committees  . 
Supplies  for  fugitives 
Transportation  of  fugitives  by  rail 
Transportation  of  fugitives  by  water 
Rescue  of  fugitives  under  arrest 





Underground  Agents,  Station-Keepers,  or  Conductors 

-Underground  agents,  station-keepers,  or  conductors 

Their  hospitality 
**'  Their  principles  . 

Their  nationality 

Their  church  connections 

Their  party  affinities  . 

Their  local  standing    . 

Prosecutions  of  underground  operators 

Defensive  League  of  Freedom  proposed 
-Persons  of  prominence  among  underground  helpers 










Study  of  the  Map  of  the  Underground  Eailroad 

^Geographical  extent  of  underground  lines 
>-Eocation  and  distribution  of  stations 

vSouthern  routes 

-I/ines  of  Pennsylvania,  New  Jersey,  and  New  York 
^Routes  of  the  New  England  states 
i/Lines  within  the  old  Northwest  Territory 

Noteworthy  features  of  the  general  map 

Complex  routes 

v<Broken  lines  and  isolated  place  names 
.   River  routes 
v'Soutes  by  rail 
'--'Routes  by  sea 
'■  Terminal  stations 
»--^ines  of  lake  travel 
■''  Canadian  ports    . 



















Abduction  of  Slaves  from  the  South 

Aversion  among  underground  helpers  to  abduction  of  slaves    .        .  150 
Abductions  by  negroes  living  along  the  northern  border  of  the  slave 

states 151 

Abductions  by  Canadian  refugees 152 

Abductions  by  white  persons  in  the  South 153 

Abductions  by  white  persons  of  the  North 154 

v^he  Missouri  raid  of  John  Brown 162 

KTohn  Brown's  great  plan 166 

Abductions  attempted  in  response  to  appeals 168 

Devotees  of  abduction 178 


Life  of  the  Colored  Refugees  in  Canada 

Slavery  question  in  Canada        ........     190 

Flight  of  slaves  to  Canada 192 

Refugees  representative  of  the  slave  class 195 



Misinformation  about  Canada  among  slaves 197  - 

Hardships  borne  by  Canadian  refugees 198 

Efforts  toward  immediate  relief  for  fugitives 199 

Attitude  of  the  Canadian  government 201 

Conditions  favorable  to  their  settlement  in  Canada  ....  203  - 

Sparseness  of  population 203 

Uncleared  lands  ........•••  204 

Encouragement  of  agricultural  colonies  among  refugees  .         .         .  205 

Dawn  Settlement .  205 

Elgin  Settlement 207 

Refugees'  Home  Settlement 209 

Alleged  disadvantages  of  the  colonies 211 

Their  advantages 212 

Refugee  settlers  in  Canadian  towns 217 

Census  of  Canadian  refugees      ........  220 

Occupations  of  Canadian  refugees 228 

Progress  made  by  Canadian  refugees 224 

Domestic  life  of  the  refugees 227 

School  privileges .         .  228 

Organizations  for  self-improvement 230 

Churches 231 

Rescue  of  friends  from  slavery 231- 

Ownership  of  property 232 

Rights  of  citizenship 233 

Character  as  citizens 233 

Fugitive  Settlers  in  the  Northern  States 

Number  of  fugitive  settlers  in  the  North  .         .         .         . 

The  Northern  states  an  unsafe  refuge  for  runaway  slaves 

Reclamation  of  fugitives  in  the  free  states 

Protection  of  fugitives  in  the  free  states    . 

Object  of  the  personal  liberty  laws     .... 

Effect  of  the  law  of  1850  on  fugitive  settlers 

Underground  operators  among  fugitives  of  the  free  states 



Prosecutions  of  Underground  Railroad  Men 



**?!nactinent  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1793 254 

Grounds  on  which  the  constitutionality  of  the  measure  was  ques- 
tioned .        .  * 254 

M)enial  of  trial  by  jury  to  the  fugitive  slave 255 

Summary  mode  of  arrest 257 

The  question  of  concurrent  jurisdiction  between  the  federal  and 

state  governments  in  fugitive  slave  cases 259 

The  law  of  1793  versus  the  Ordinance  of  1787 261 

Power  of  Congress  to  legislate  concerning  the  extradition  of  fugitive 

slaves  denied .  263 

State  officers  relieved  of  the  execution  of  the  law  by  the  Prigg  de- 
cision, 1842 264 

>^mendment  of  the  law  of  1793  by  the  law  of  1850   ....  265 

Constitutionality  of  the  law  of  1850  questioned        ....  267 

■^irst  case  under  the  law  of  1850 268 

Authority  of  a  United  States  commissioner 269 

Penalties  imposed  for  aiding  and  abetting  the  escape  of  fugitives    .  273  - 

Trial  on  the  charge  of  treason  in  the  Christiana  case,  1854       .        .  279 

Counsel  for  fugitive  slaves 281 

Last  case  under  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850        ....  285 

Attempted  revision  of  the  law 285 

Destructive  attacks  upon  the  measure  in  Congress    ....  286 

^Lincoln's  Proclamation  of  Emancipation 287 

vRepeal  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Acts 288 


The  Underground  Railroad  in  Politics 

*^aluation  of  the  Underground  Railroad  in  its  political  aspect  .  290 

The  question  of  the  extradition  of  fugitive  slaves  in  colonial  times  .  290 

Importance  of  the  question  in  the  constitutional  conventions  .        .  293 

Failure  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1793 294 

Agitation  for  a  more  efficient  measure 295 

-Diplomatic  negotiations  for  the  extradition  of  colored  refugees  from 

Canada,  1826-1828 299 

The  fugitive  slave  a  missionary  in  the  cause  of  freedom  .        .        .  300 




Slave-hunting  in  the  free  states 

Preparation  for  the  abolition  movement  of  1830        ....  303 

^•The  Underground  Railroad  and  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850      .  308  ~ 

The  law  in  Congress "510 

^he  enforcement  of  the  law  of  1850 316 

Vflie  Underground  Road  and  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin        ....  321  — 

^■^litical  importance  of  the  novel 323 

W,Sumner  on  the  influence  of  escaped  slaves  in  the  North    .         .         .  324  ■^ 

The  spirit  of  nullification  in  the  North 327 

The  Glover  rescue,  Wisconsin,  1854 327 

The  rendition  of  Burns,  Boston,  1854 331 

The  rescue  of  Addison  White,  Mechanicsburg,  Ohio,  1857        .         .  334 

The  Oberlin-Wellington  rescue,  1858 335 

Obstruction  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  by  means  of  the  personal 

liberty  acts 337 

John  Brown's  attempt  to  free  the  slaves 338 


Effect  of  the  Underground  Railroad 

The  Underground  Road  the  means  of  relieving  the  South  of  many 

despairing  slaves 340 

'-dl.oss  sustained  by  slave-owners  through  underground  channels        .  340 

J    The  United  States  census  reports  on  fugitive  slaves  ....  342 

;    Estimate  of  the  number  of  slaves  escaping  into  Ohio,  1830-1860      .  346 

;   Similar  estimate  for  Philadelphia,  1830-1860 346 

'    Drain  on  the  resources  of  the  depot  at  Lawrence,  Kansas,  described 

in  a  letter  of  Col.  J.  Bowles,  April  4,  1859 347 

Work  of  the  Undergi-ound  Railroad  as  compared  with  that  of  the 

American  Colonization  Society 350 

The  violation  of  the   Fugitive  Slave  Law  a  chief   complaint  of 

Southern  states  at  the  beginning  of  the  Civil  War     .        .         .  351 
Refusal  of  the  Canadian  government  to  yield  up  the  fugitive  Ander- 
son, 1860 352 

So  session  of  the  Southern  states  begun 353 

"'Conclusion  of  the  fugitive  slave  controversy 355 

-.  General  effect  and  significance  of  the  controversy     ....  356 


The  Underground  Railroad :   Levi  Coffin  receiving  a  company  of 

fugitives  in  the  outskirts  of  Cincinnati,  Ohio     .        .       Frontispiece 


Isaac  T.  Hopper 17 

The   Runaway :    a  stereotype  cut  used  on  handbills  advertising 

escaped  slaves 27 

Crossing-place  on  the  Ohio  River  at  SteubenviUe,  Ohio    ...  47 

The  Rankia  House,  Ripley,  Ohio 47 

Facsimile  of  an  Underground  Message       .        .        .         .On  page  57 

Barn  of  Seymour  Finney,  Detroit,  Michigan     .....  65 

The  Old  First  Church,  Galesburg,  Illinois 65 

William  StiU 75 

Levi  Coffin 87 

Frederick  Douglass 104 

Caves  in  Salem  Township,  Washington  County,  Ohio       .        .        .  130 

House  of  Mrs.  Elizabeth  BufEum  Chace,  Valley  Falls,  Rhode  Island  130 

The  Detroit  River  at  Detroit,  Michigan 147 

Ashtabula  Harbor,  Ohio 147 

Ellen  Craft  as  she  escaped  from  Slavery             163 

Samuel  Harper  and  Wife 163 

Dr.  Alexander  M.  Ross 180 

Harriet  Tubman 180 

Group  of  Refugee  Settlers  at  Windsor,  Ontario,  C.W.      .        .        .190 

Theodore  Parker 205 

Thomas  Wentworth  Higginson 205 

Dr.  Samuel  G.  Howe 205 

Benjamin  Drew 205 

Church  of  the  Fugitive  Slaves,  Boston,  Massachusetts      .        .        .235 

Sahnon  P.  Chase 254 




Thomas  Garrett 254 

Kush  K.  Sloane 282 

Thaddeus  Stevens 282 

J.  R.  Ware  ....  282 

Rutherford  B.  Hayes 282 

Gerrit  Smith 290 

Joshua  R.  Giddings 290 

Charles  Sumner 290 

Richard  H.  Dana 290 

Bust  of  Rev.  John  Rankin 307 

Harriet  Beecher  Stowe 321 

Captain  John  Brown 338 

Facsimile  of  a  Leaf  from  the  Diary  of  Daniel  Osborn     On  pages  344,  345 


Map  of  the  Underground  Railroad  System        .        .      Facing  page  113 

Map  of  Underground  Lines  in  Southeastern  Pennsylvania        "  113 

Map  of  Underground  Lines  in  Morgan  County,  Ohio  .  On  page  186 
Lewis  Falley's  Map  of  the  Underground  Routes  of  Indiana  and 

Michigan On  page  138 

Map  of  an  Underground  Line  through  Livingston  and  La  Salle 

Counties,  Illinois On  page  139 

Map  of  Underground  Lines  through  Greene,  Warren  and  Clinton 

Counties,  Ohio On  page  140 



Appendix  A:   Constitutional  Provisions  and  National  Acts  rela- 
tive to  Fugitive  Slaves,  1787-1850 359-366 

Appendix  B  :  List  of  Important  Fugitive  Slave  Cases  .  .  367-377 
Appendix  C  :   Figures  from  the   United   States   Census   Reports 

relating  to  Fugitive  Slaves 378,  379 

Appendix  D  :   Bibliography 380-402 

Appendix  E:   Directory  of  the  names  of  Underground  Railroad 

Operators  and  Members  of  Vigilance  Committees      .         .      403-439 


This  volume  is  tlie  outgrowth  of  an  investigation  begun 
in  1892-1893,  wlien  the  writer  was  giving  a  portion  of  his 
time  to  the  teaching  of  United  States  history  in  the  Ohio 
State  University.  The  search  for  materials  was  carried  on 
at  intervals  during  several  years  until  the  mass  of  informa- 
tion, written  and  printed,  was  deemed  sufficient  to  be  sub- 
jected to  the  processes  of  analysis  and  generalization. 

Patience  and  care  have  been  required  to  overcome  the 
difficulties  attaching  to  a  subject  that  was  in  an  extraordi- 
nary sense  a  hidden  one ;  and  the  author  has  constantly 
tried  to  observe  those  well-known  dicta  of  the  historian ; 
namely,  to  be  content  with  the  materials  discovered  without 
making  additions  of  his  own,  and  to  let  his  conclusions  be 
defined  by  the  facts,  rather  than  seek  to  cast  these  "  in  the 
mould  of  his  hypothesis." 

Starting  without  preconceptions,  the  writer  has  been  con- 
strained to  the  views  set  forth  in  Chapters  X  and  XI  in 
regard  to  the  real  meaning  and  importance  of  the  under- 
ground movement.  And  if  it  be  found  by  the  reader  that 
these  views  are  in  any  measure  novel,  it  is  hoped  that  the 
pages  of  this  book  contain  evidence  sufficient  for  their  justi- 
fication. There  is  something  mysterious  and  inexplicable 
about  the  whole  anti-slavery  movement  in  the  United  States, 
as  its  history  is  generally  recounted.  According  to  the 
accepted  view  the  anti-slavery  movement  of  the  thirties  and 
the  later  decades  has  been  considered  as  altogether  distinct 
from  the  earlier  abolition  period  in  our  history,  both  in  prin- 
ciple and  external  features,  and  as  separated  from  it  by  a 


considerable  interval  of  time.  The  earlier  movement  is  sup- 
posed to  have  died  a  natural  death,  and  the  later  to  have 
sprung  into  full  life  and  vigor  with  the  appearance  of  Gar- 
rison and  the  Liberator.  Issue  is  made  with  this  view  in 
the  following  pages,  where  Macaulay's  rational  account  of 
revolutions  in  general  may,  perhaps,  be  thought  to  find 
illustration.  Macaulay  says  in  one  of  his  essays  :  "  As  the 
history  of  states  is  generally  written,  the  greatest  and  most 
momentous  revolutions  seem  to  come  upon  them  like  super- 
natural inflictions,  without  warning  or  cause.  But  the  fact 
is,  that  such  revolutions  are  almost  always  the  consequences 
of  moral  changes,  which  have  gradually  passed  on  the  mass 
of  the  community,  and  which  ordinarily  proceed  far  before 
their  progress  is  indicated  by  any  public  measure.  An  inti- 
mate knowledge  of  the  domestic  history  of  nations  is  there- 
fore absolutely  necessary  to  the  prognosis  of  political  events." 
Or,  the  essayist  might  have  added,  to  a  subsequent  under- 
standing of  them. 

It  is  impossible  for  the  author  to  make  acknowledgments 
to  all  who  have  contributed,  directly  and  indirectly,  to  the 
promotion  of  his  research.  A  liberal  use  of  foot-notes  suf- 
fices to  reduce  his  obligations  in  part  only.  But,  although 
the  great  balance  of  his  indebtedness  must  stand  against  him, 
his  special  acknowledgments  are  due  in  certain  quarters. 
The  writer  has  to  thank  Professor  J.  Franklin  Jameson  of 
Brown  University  for  calling  his  attention  to  a  rare  and  im- 
portant little  book,  which  otherwise  would  almost  certainly 
have  escaped  his  notice.  To  Professor  Eugene  Wambaugh 
of  the  Harvard  Law  School  he  is  indebted  for  the  critical 
perusal  of  Chapter  IX,  on  the  Prosecutions  of  Underground 
Railroad  Men,  —  a  chapter  based  largely  on  reports  of  cases, 
and  involving  legal  points  about  which  the  layman  may 
easily  go  astray.  The  frequent  citations  of  the  monograph 
on  Fugitive  Slaves  by  Mrs.  Marion  G.  McDougall  attest  the 
general  usefulness  of  that  book  in  the  preparation  of  the 
present  work.     For  personal  encouragement  in  the  under- 


taking  after  the  collection  of  materials  had  begun,  and  for 
assistance  while  the  study  was  being  put  in  manuscript,  the 
author  is  most  deeply  indebted  to  Professor  Albert  Bushnell 
Hart,  and  the  Seminary  of  American  History  in  Harvard 
University,  over  which  he  and  his  colleague,  Professor  Ed- 
ward Channing,  preside.  The  proof-sheets  of  this  book  have 
been  read  by  Mr.  F.  B.  Sanborn,  of  Concord,  Massachusetts, 
and,  it  is  hardly  necessary  to  add,  have  profited  thereby  in  a 
way  that  would  have  been  impossible  had  they  passed  under 
the  eye  of  one  less  widely  acquainted  with  anti-slavery  times 
and  anti-slavery  people.  More  than  to  all  others  the  author's 
gratitude  is  due  to  the  members  of  his  own  household,  with- 
out whose  abiding  interest  and  ready  assistance  in  many 
ways  this  work  could  not  have  been  carried  to  completion. 
It  should  be  said  that  no  responsibility  for  the  use  made  of 
data  or  the  conclusions  drawn  from  them  can  justly  be 
imposed  upon  those  whose  generous  ofl&ces  have  kept  these 
pages  freer  from  discrepancies  than  they  could  have  been 

It  is  a  fortunate  circumstance  that,  by  the  kindness  of  the 
artist,  Mr.  C.  T.  Webber,  the  reproduction  of  his  painting 
entitled  "The  Underground  Railroad"  can  appear  as  the 
frontispiece  of  this  book.  Mr.  Webber  was  fitted  by  his 
intimate  acquaintance  with  the  Coffin  family  of  Cincinnati, 
Ohio,  and  their  remarkable  record  in  the  work  of  secret 
emancipation,  to  give  a  sympathetic  delineation  of  the  Un- 
derground Railroad  in  operation. 

Ohio  State  Universitt, 
October,  1898. 







Historians  who  deal  with  the  rise  and  culmination  of  the 
anti-slavery  movement  in  the  United  States  have  compara- 
tively little  to  say  of  one  phase  of  it  that  cannot  be  neglected 
if  the  movement  is  to  be  fully  understood.  This  is  the  so- 
called  Underground  Railroad,  which,  during  fifty  years  or 
more,  was  secretly  engaged  in  helping  fugitive  slaves  to 
reach  places  of  security  in  the  free  states  and  in  Canada. 
Henry  Wilson  speaks  of  the  romantic  interest  attaching  to 
the  subject,  and  illustrates  the  cooperative  efforts  made  by 
abolitionists  in  behalf  of  colored  refugees  in  two  short  chap- 
ters of  the  second  volume  of  his  Itise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave 
Power  in  America.^  Von  Hoist  makes  several  references  to 
the  work  of  the  Road  in  his  well-known  History  of  the  United 
States,  and  predicts  that  "  The  time  will  yet  come,  even  in 
the  South,  when  due  recognition  will  be  given  to  the  touch- 
ing unselfishness,  simple  magnanimity  and  glowing  love  of 
freedom  of  these  law-breakers  on  principle,  who  were  for  the 
most  part  people  without  name,  money,  or  higher  educa- 
tion." ^    Rhodes  in  his  great  work,  the  History  of  the  United 

•■  Chapters  VI  and  VII,  pp.  61-86.  '■  Vol.  HI,  p.  552,  foot-note. 

B  1 


States  from  the  Compromise  of  1850,  mentions  the  system,  but 
considers  it  only  as  a  manifestation  of  popular  sentiment.^ 
Other  writers  give  less  space  to  an  account  of  this  enterprise, 
although  it  was  one  that  extended  throughout  many  Northern 
states,  and  in  itself  supplied  the  reason  for  the  enactment  of 
the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850,  one  of  the  most  remarkable 
measures  issuing  from  Congress  during  the  whole  anti-slavery 

The  explanation  of  the  failure  to  give  to  this  "  institution  ". 
the  prominence  which  it  deserves,  is  to  be  found  in  the 
secrecy  in  which  it  was  enshrouded.  Continuous  through  a 
period  of  two  generations,  the  Road  spread  to  be  a  great  sys- 
tem by  being  kept  in  an  oblivion  that  its  operators  aptly  des- 
ignated by  the  figurative  use  of  the  word  "underground." 
Then,  too,  it  was  a  movement  in  which  but  few  of  those  per- 
sons were  involved  whose  names  have  been  most  closely  asso- 
ciated in  history  with  the  public  agitation  of  the  question  of 
slavery,  or  with  those  political  developments  that  resulted  in 
the  destruction  of  slavery.  In  general  the  participants  in 
1  underground  operations  were  quiet  persons,  little  known  out- 
side of  the  localities  where  they  lived,  and  were  therefore 
members  of  a  class  that  historians  find  it  exceedingly  diffi- 
cult to  bring  within  their  field  of  view. 

Before  attempting  to  prepare  a  new  account  of  the  Under- 
ground Railroad,  from  new  materials,  something  should  be 
said  of  previous  works  upon  it,  and  especially  of  the  seven 
books  which  deal  specifically  with  the  subject :  The  Under- 
ground Railroad,  by  the  Rev.  W.  M.  Mitchell ;  Underground 
Railroad  Records,  by  William  StiU  ;  The  Underground  Rail- 
road in  Chester  and  the  Neighboring  Counties  of  Pennsylvania, 
by  R.  C.  Smedley;  The  Reminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin;  Sketches 
in  the  History  of  the  Underground  Railroad,  by  Eber  M.  Pet- 
tit  ;  From  Dixie  to  Canada,  by  H.  U.  Johnson  ;  and  Heroes 
in  Homespun,  by  Ascott  R.  Hope  (a  nom  de  plume  for  Robert 
Hope  Moncrieff). 

While  several  of  these  volumes  are  sources  of  original 
material,  their  value  is  chiefly  that  of  collections  of  incidents, 
affording  one  an  insight  into  the  workings  of  the  Under- 
1  History  of  the  United  States,  Vol.  II,  pp.  74-77,  361,  362. 


ground  Railroad  in  certain  localities,  and  presenting  types  of 
character  among  the  helpers  and  the  helped.  In  composi- 
tion they  are  what  one  would  expect  of  persons  who  lived 
simple,  strenuous  lives,  who  with  sincerity  record  what  they 
knew  and  experienced.  They  have  not  only  the  characteris- 
tics of  a  deep-seated,  moral  movement,  they  have  also  an 
undeniable  value  for  historical  purposes. 

Mitchell's  small  volume  of  172  pages  was  published  in 
England  in  1860.  Its  author  was  a  free  negro,  who  served 
as  a  slave-driver  in  the  South  for  several  years,  then  became 
a  preacher  in  Ohio,  and  for  twelve  years  engaged  in  under- 
ground work  ;  finally,  about  1855,  he  went  to  Toronto,  Can- 
ada, to  minister  to  colored  refugees  as  a  missionary  in  the 
service  of  the  American  Free  Baptist  Mission  Society. ^  It 
was  while  soliciting  money  in  England  for  the  purpose  of 
building  a  chapel  and  schoolhouse  for  his  people  in  Toronto 
that  he  was  induced  to  write  his  book.  The  range  of  expe- 
rience of  the  author  enabled  him  to  relate  at  first  hand  many 
incidents  illustrative  of  the  various  phases  of  underground 
procedure,  and  to  give  an  account  of  the  condition  of  the 
fugitive  slaves  in  Canada.^ 

Still's  Underground  Railroad  Records,  a  large  volume  of 
780  pages,  appeared  in  1872,  and  a  second  edition  in  1883. 
For  some  years  before  the  War  Mr.  Still  was  a  clerk  in  the 
ofiice  of  the  Pennsylvania  Anti-Slavery  Society  in  Philadel- 
phia ;  and  from  1852  to  '1860  he  served  as  chairman  of  the 
Acting  Vigilance  Committee  of  Philadelphia,  a  body  whose 
special  business  it  was  to  harbor  fugitives  and  help  them 
towards  Canada.  About  1850  Mr.  Still  began  to  keep  records 
of  the  stories  he  heard  from  runaways,  and  his  book  is  mainly 
a  compilation  of  these  stories,  together  with  some  Under- 
ground Railroad  correspondence.  At  the  end  there  are  some 
biographical  sketches  of  persons  more  or  less  prominent  in  the 
anti-slavery  cause.  The  book  is  a  mine  of  material  relating 
to  the  work  of  the  Vigilance  Committee  of  Philadelphia. 

1  Mitchell,  Underground  Bailroad,  Preface,  p.  vi ;  p.  17. 

2  Mr.  Mitchell  divides  his  little  book  into  two  chapters,  one  on  the  "Under- 
ground Railroad,"  occupying  124  pages,  the  other  on  the  "Condition  of 
Fugitive  Slaves  in  Canada,"  occupying  48  pages. 


Operations  carried  on  in  an  extended  field  of  six  or  seven 
counties  in  southeastern  Pennsylvania,  over  routes  many  of 
which  led  to  the  Quaker  City,  are  recounted  in  Smedley's 
volume  of  395  pages,  published  in  1883.  The  abundant 
reminiscences  and  short  biographies  were  patiently  gathered 
by  the  author  from  many  aged  participants  in  iinderground 

In  his  Reminiscences,  a  book  of  732  pages,  Levi  Coffin,  the 
reputed  president  of  the  Underground  Railroad,  relates  his 
experiences  from  the  time  when  he  began,  as  a  youth  in 
North  Carolina,  to  direct  slaves  northward  on  the  path  to 
liberty,  till  the  time  when,  after  twenty  years  of  service  in 
eastern  Indiana  and  fifteen  in  Cincinnati,  Ohio,  he  and  his 
coworkers  were  relieved  by  the  admission  of  slaves  within 
the  lines  of  the  Union  forces  in  the  South.  Mr.  Coffin  was 
a  Quaker  of  the  gentle  but  firm  type  depicted  by  Harriet 
Beecher  Stowe  in  the  character  Simeon  Halliday,  of  which  he 
may  have  been  the  original.  It  need  scarcely  be  said,  there- 
fore, that  his  autobiography  is  characterized  by  simplicity  and 
candor,  and  supplies  a  fund  of  information  in  regard  to  those 
branches  of  the  Road  with  which  its  author  was  connected. 

Pettit's  Sketches  comprise  a  series  of  articles  printed  in  the 
Fredonia  (New  York)  Censor,  during  the  fall  of  1868,  and 
collected  in  1879  into  a  book  of  174  pages.  The  author  was 
for  many  years  a  "conductor"  in  southwestern  New  York, 
and  most  of  the  adventures  narrated  occurred  within  his 
personal  knowledge. 

Johnson's  From  Dixie  to  Canada  is  a  little  volume  of  194 
pages,  in  which  are  reprinted  some  of  the  many  stories  first 
published  by  him  in  the  Lalce  Shore  Home  Magazine  during 
the  years  1883  to  1889  under  the  heading,  "  Romances  and 
Realities  of  the  Underground  Raiboad."  The  data  that 
most  of  these  tales  embody  were  accumulated  by  research, 
and  while  the  names  of  operators,  towns  and  so  forth  are 
authentic,  the  writer  allows  himself  the  license  of  the  story- 
teller instead  of  restricting  himself  to  the  simple  recording 
of  the  information  secured.  His  investigations  have  given 
him  an  acquaintance  with  the  routes  of  northeastern  Ohio 
and  the  adjacent  portions  of  Pennsylvania  and  New  York. 


Hope's  volume,  published  in  1894,  does  not  increase  the 
number  of  our  sources  of  information,  inasmuch  as  its 
materials  are  derived  from  Stdl's  Underground  Railroad 
Records  and  Cofiin's  Reminiscences.  It  ■was  written  by  an 
Englishman  apparently  as  a  popular  exposition  of  the  hidden 
methods  of  the  abolitionists. 

To  these  books  should  be  added  a  pamphlet  of  thirty  pages, 
entitled  The  Underground  Railroad,  by  James  H.  Fairchild,v--- 
D.D.,  ex-President  of  Oberlin  College,  published  in  1895 
by  the  Western  Reserve  Historical  Society.^  The  author 
had  personal  knowledge  of  many  of  the  events  he  narrates 
and  recounts  several  underground  cases  of  notoriety;  he 
thus  affords  a  clear  insight  into  the  conditions  under  which 
secret  aid  came  to  be  rendered  to  runaways. 

It  is  surprising  that  a  subject,  the  mysterious  and  romantic 
character  of  which  might  be  supposed  to  appeal  to  a  wide 
circle  of  readers,  has  not  been  duly  treated  in  any  of  the 
modern  popular  magazines.  During  the  last  ten  years  a  few 
articles  about  the  Underground  Railroad  have  appeared  in 
The  Magazine  of  Western  History?  The  Firelands  Pioneer,^ 
The  Midland  Monthly,*^  The  Canadian  Magazine  of  Polities, 
Science,  Art  and  Literature^  and  The  American  Sistorical 
Review.^  Three  of  these  publications,  the  first  two  and  the 
last,  are  of  a  special  character ;  the  other  two,  although  they 
appeal  to  the  general  reader,  cannot  be  said  to  have  attempted 
more  than  the  presentation  of  a  few  incidents  out  of  the 
experience  of  cei-tain  underground  helpers.  From  time  to 
time  the  Xew  England  Magazine  has  given  its  readers 
glimpses  of  the  Underground  Road  by  its  articles  dealing 
with  several   well-known  fugitive   slave   cases,   and  a  bio- 

^  Tract  No.  87,  in  Vol.  IV,  pp.  91-121,  of  the  publications  of  the  Society. 

-  ilarch,  1887,  pp.  672-6S2. 

'  July,  1888,  pp.  19-88.  This  periodical  is  issued  by  the  Firelands  His- 
torical Society  of  Ohio.  The  bulk  of  the  number  mentioned  is  made 
up  of  contributions  in  regard  to  the  Underground  Boad  in  nortiwestem 

*  Februarv.  1895,  pp.  173-180. 

5  May.  1895,  pp.  9-16. 

«  April,  1896,  pp.  455-463.  This  article  is  a  preliminary  study  prepared  by 
the  author. 


graphical  sketch  of  the  abductor  Harriet  Tubman.^  But  it 
would  be  quite  impossible  for  any  one  to  gain  an  adequate 
idea  of  the  movement  from  the  meagre  accounts  that  have 
appeared  in  any  of  these  magazines. 

In  contrast  with  the  magazines,  the  newspapers  have  fre- 
quently published  some  of  the  stirring  recollections  of  sur- 
viving abolitionists,  but  the  result  for  the  reader  is  usually 
that  he  learns  only  some  anecdotes  concerning  a  small  section 
of  the  Road,  without  securing  an  insight  into  the  real  signifi- 
cance of  the  underground  movement.  Without  undertaking 
here  to  print  a  full  list  of  articles  on  the  subject,  it  is  worth 
while  to  notice  a  few  newspapers  in  which  series  of  sketches 
have  appeared  of  more  or  less  value  in  extending  our  geo- 
graphical knowledge  of  the  system,  or  in  illustrating  some 
important  phase  of  its  working.  The  New  Lexington  (Ohio) 
Tribune,  from  October,  1885,  to  February,  1886,  contains  a 
series  of  reminiscences,  written  by  Mr.  Thomas  L.  Gray,  that 
supply  interesting  information  about  the  work  in  southeastern 
Ohio.  The  Pontiac  (Illinois)  Sentinel,  in  1890  and  1891, 
published  fifteen  chapters  of  "A  History  of  Anti-Slavery 
Days  "  contributed  by  Mr.  W.  B.  Fyffe,  recording  some  epi- 
sodes in  the  development  of  this  Road  in  northeastern  Illinois. 
The  Sentinel,  of  Mt.  Gilead,  Ohio,  in  a  series  of  articles,  one 
of  which  appeared  every  week  from  July  13  to  August  17, 
1893,  under  the  name  of  Aaron  Benedict,  affords  a  knowledge 
of  the  way  in  which  the  secret  work  was  carried  on  in  a  typi- 
cal Quaker  community.  In  The  Republican  Leader,  of  Salem, 
Indiana,  at  various  dates  from  Nov.  17,  1893,  to  April,  1894, 
E.  Hicks  Trueblood  printed  the  results  of  some  investiga- 
tions begun  at  the  instance  of  the  author,  which  disclose 
the  principal  routes  of  south  central  Indiana.  An  account 
of  the  peculiar  methods  of  the  pedler  Joseph  Sider,  an  ab- 
ductor of  slaves,  is  also  given  by  Mr.  Trueblood.     The  Rev. 

1  Llllie  B.  C.  Wyman ;  "  Black  and  White,"  in  New  England  Magazine, 
N.S.,  Vol.  V,  pp.  476-481  ;  "  Harriet  Tubman,"  ibid.,  March,  1896,  pp.  110- 
118.  Nina  M.  Tiffany:  "The  Escape  of  William  and  Ellen  Craft,"  ibid., 
January,  1890,  p.  524  et  seq.;  "Shadrach,"  ibid.,  May,  1890,  pp.  280-283; 
"  Sims,"  ifttU,  June,  1890,  pp.  385-388;  "  Anthony  Burns,"  ibid.,  July,  1890, 
pp.  569-576.  A.  H.  Grimk6  :  "Anti-Slavery  Boston,"  ibid.,  December,  1890, 
pp.  441-459. 


John  Todd  has  preserved  in  the  columns  of  the  Tabor  (Iowa) 
Beacon,  in  1890  and  1891,  some  valuable  reminiscences, 
running  through  more  than  twenty  numbers  of  the  paper, 
under  the  title,  "  The  Early  Settlement  and  Growth  of  West- 
ern Iowa";  several  of  these  are  devoted  to  fugitive  slave 

It  is  not  surprising,  in  view  of  the  unlawful  nature  of 
Underground  Railroad  service,  that  extremely  little  in  the 
way  of  contemporaneous  documents  has  descended  to  us  even 
across  the  short  span  of  a  generation  or  two,  and  that  theie 
are  few  written  data  for  the  history  of  a  movement  that  gave 
liberty  to  thousands  of  slaves.  The  legal  restraints  upon  the 
rendering  of  aid  to  slaves  bent  on  flight  to  Canada  were,  of 
course,  ever  present  in  the  minds  of  those  that  pitied  the 
bondman,  whether  a  well-informed  lawyer,  like  Joshua  R. 
Giddings,  or  an  illiterate  negro,  who,  notwithstanding  his 
fellow-feeling,  was  yet  sufficiently  sagacious  to  avoid  the  open 
violation  of  what  others  might  call  the  law  of  the  land.  There- 
fore, written  evidence  of  complicity  was  for  the  most  part 
carefully  avoided ;  and  little  information  concerning  any  part 
of  the  work  of  the  Underground  Road  was  allowed  to  get 
into  print.  It  is  known  that  records  and  diaries  were  kept 
by  certain  helpers ;  and  a  few  of  the  letters  and  messages 
that  passed  between  station-keepers  have  been  preserved. 
These  sources  of  information  are  as  valuable  as  they  are 
rare :  they  would  doubtless  be  more  plentiful  if  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  of  1850  had  not  created  such  consternation  as  to 
lead  to  the  destruction  of  most  of  the  telltale  documents. 

The  great  collection  of  contemporaneous  material  is  that 
of  William  Still,  relating  mainly  to  the  work  of  the  Vigilance 
Committee  of  Philadelphia.  The  motives  and  the  methods 
of  Mr.  Still  in  keeping  his  register  are  given  in  the  following 
words :  "  Thousands  of  escapes,  harrowing  separations,  dread- 
ful longings,  dark  gropings  after  lost  parents,  brothers,  sisters, 
and  identities,  seemed  ever  to  be  pressing  on  my  mind.  While 
I  knew  the  danger  of  keeping  strict  records,  and  while  I  did 
not  then  dream  that  in  my  day  slavery  would  be  blotted  out, 

'  Other  newspapers  in  which  materials  have  been  found  are  mentioned  in 
the  Appendix,  pp.  395-398. 


or  that  the  time  would  come  when  I  could  publish  these  rec- 
ords, it  used  to  afford  me  great  satisfaction  to  take  them  down 
fresh  from  the  lips  of  fugitives  on  the  way  to  freedom,  and 
to  preserve  them  as  they  had  given  them.  .  .  ."  ^  When  in 
1852  Mr.  Still  became  the  chairman  of  the  Acting  Committee 
of  Vigilance  his  opportunities  were  doubtless  increased  for 
obtaining  histories  of  cases ;  and  he  was  then  directed  as  head 
of  the  committee  "  to  keep  a  record  of  all  their  doings,  .  .  . 
especially  of  the  money  received  and  expended  on  behalf  of 
every  case  claiming  their  interposition."  ^  During  the  period 
of  the  War,  Chairman  Still  concealed  the  records  and  docu- 
ments he  had  collected  in  the  loft  of  Lebanon  Cemetery 
building,  and  although  their  publication  became  practicable 
when  the  Proclamation  of  Emancipation  was  issued,  the 
Underground  Railroad  Records  did  not  appear  until  1872.^ 

Theodore  Parker,  the  distinguished  Unitarian  clergyman 
of  Boston,  and  one  of  the  most  active  members  of  the  Vigi- 
lance Committee  of  that  city,  kept  memoranda  of  occurrences 
growing  out  of  the  attempted  enforcement  of  the  Fugitive  Slave 
Law  in  his  neighborhood.  He  was  outspoken  in  his  opposition 
to  the  law,  and  was  not  less  bold  in  gathering  into  a  journal, 
along  with  newspaper  clippings  and  handbills  referring  to  the 
troubles  of  the  time,  manuscripts  of  his  own  bearing  on  the 
unlawful  procedure  of  the  Committee.  This  journal  or  scrap- 
book,  given  to  the  Boston  Public  Library  in  1874  by  Mrs. 
Parker,*  was  compiled  day  by  day  from  March  15,  1851,  to 
February  19,  1856,  and  throws  much  light  on  the  rendition 
of  the  fugitives  Burns  and  Sims. 

John  Brown,  of  Osawattomie,  left  a  few  notes  of  his  mem- 
orable journey  through  Kansas  and  Iowa,  on  his  way  to  Canada 
in  the  winter  of  1858  and  1859,  with  a  company  of  slaves  res- 
cued by  him  from  bondage  in  western  Missouri.  On  the  back 
of  the  original  draft  of  a  letter  written  by  Brown  for  the  New 
York  Tribune  soon  after  the  slaves  had  been  taken  from  their 

1  Underground  Bailroad  Becords,  pp.  xxxiii,  xxxiy. 

2  Ibid.,  p.  611,  where  is  printed  an  article  from  the  Pennsylvania  Freeman, 
December  9,  1852,  giving  an  account  of  the  formation  of  the  Committee. 

'  See  pp.  xxxiv,  xxxv,  xxxvi. 

*  The  title  Mr.  Parker  gave  to  this  scrap-book  is  as  follows  :  "Memoranda 
of  the  Troubles  in  Boston  occasioned  by  the  infamous  Fugitive  Slave  Law." 


masters,  appear  the  names  of  station-keepers  of  the  Under- 
ground Railroad  in  eastern  Kansas,  and  a  record  of  certain 
expenditures  forming,  doubtless,  a  part  of  the  cost  of  his  trip.^ 
When  the  fearless  abductor  arrived  at  Springdale,  Iowa,  late 
in  February,  he  wrote  to  a  friend  in  Tabor  a  statement  con- 
cerning the  "  Reception  of  Brown  and  Party  at  Grinnell,  Iowa, 
compared  with  Proceedings  at  Tabor,"  in  which  he  set  down 
in  the  form  of  items  the  substantial  attentions  he  had  received 
at  the  hands  of  citizens  of  Grinnell.^  These  meagre  records, 
together  with  the  letter  written  to  the  Tribune  mentioned 
above,  are  all  that  Brown  wrote,  so  far  as  known,  giving  ex- 
plicit information  in  regard  to  an  exploit  that  created  a  stir 
throughout  the  country. 

Mr.  Jirch  Piatt,  of  the  vicinity  of  Mendon,  Illinois,  recorded 
his  experiences  as  a  station-keeper  in  a  "sort  of  diary  and 
farm  record,"  and  in  a  "blue-book,"  and  appears  to  have 
been  the  only  one  of  the  underground  helpers  of  Illinois  that 
ventured  to  chronicle  matters  of  this  kind.  The  diary  is 
stiU  extant,  and  shows  entries  covering  a  period  of  more 
than  ten  years,  closing  with  October,  1859;  the  following 
items  will  illustrate  sufficiently  the  character  of  the  record :  — 

"May  19, 1848.  Hannah  Coger  arrived  on  the  U.  G.  Rail- 
road, the  last  $100.00  for  freedom  she  was  to  pay  to  Thomas 
Anderson,  Palmyra,  Mo.  The  track  is  kept  bright,  it  being 
the  3rd  time  occupied  since  the  first  of  April."     .  .  . 

"  Nov.  9,  '54.  Negro  hoax  stories  have  been  very  high  in 
the  market  for  a  week  past." 

"  Oct.  1859.  U.  G.  R.  R.  Conductor  reported  the  passage 
of  five,  who  were  considered  very  valuable  pieces  of  Ebony, 
all  designated  by  names,  such  as  John  BrooJcs,  Daniel  Brooks, 
Mason  Bushrod,  Sylvester  Luchet  and  Hanson  Grause.  Have 
understood  also  that  three  others  were  ticketed  about  mid- 

In  Ohio,  Daniel  Osborn,  of  the  Alum  Creek  Quaker 
Settlement,  in  the  central  part  of  the  state,  kept  a  diary,  of 

1  Sanborn,  Life  and  Letters  of  John  Brown,  p.  482. 

2  Ibid.,  pp.  488,  489. 


which  to-day  only  a  leaf  remains.  This  bit  of  paper  gives  a 
record  of  the  number  of  negroes  passing  through  the  Alum 
Creek  neighborhood  during  an  interval  of  five  months,  from 
April  14  to  September  10,  1844,  and  is  of  considerable  impor- 
tance, because  it  supplies  data  that  furnish,  when  taken  in 
connection  with  other  terms,  the  elements  for  an  interesting 
computation  of  the  number  of  slaves  that  escaped  into  Ohio.^ 
In  the  correspondence  of  Mr.  David  Putnam,  of  Point 
Hamar,  near  Marietta,  Ohio,  there  were  found  a  few  letters 
relating  to  the  journeys  of  fugitives.  That  even  these  few 
letters  remain  is  doubtless  due  to  neglect  or  oversight  on  the 
part  of  the  recipient.  It  is  noticeable  that  some  of  them 
bear  unmistakable  signs  of  intended  secrecy,  the  proper 
names  having  been  blotted  out,  or  covered  with  bits  of 

Underground  managers  who  were  so  indiscreet  as  to  keep 
a  diary  or  letters  for  a  season,  were  induced  to  part  with  such 
condemning  evidence  under  the  stress  of  a  special  danger. 
Mr.  Robert  Purvis,  of  Philadelphia,  states  that  he  kept  a 
record  of  the  fugitives  that  passed  through  his  hands  and 
those  of  his  coworkers  in  the  Quaker  City  for  a  long  period, 
till  the  trepidation  of  his  family  after  the  passage  of  the  Fugi- 
tive Slave  Bill  in  1850  caused  him  to  destroy  it.^  Daniel 
Gibbons,  a  Friend,  who  lived  near  Columbia  in  southeastern 
Pennsylvania,  began  in  1824  to  keep  a  record  of  the  number 
of  fugitives  he  aided.  He  was  in  the  habit  of  entering  in  his 
book  the  name  of  the  master  of  each  fugitive,  the  fugitive's 
own  name  and  his  age,  and  the  new  name  given  him.  The 
data  thus  gathered  came  in  time  to  form  a  large  volume, 
but  after  the  passage  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  Mr.  Gibbons 
burned  this  book.^  William  Parker,  the  colored  leader  in 
the  famous  Christiana  case,  was  found  by  a  friend  to  have  a 
large  number  of  letters  from  escaped  slaves  hidden  about  \is 
house  at  the  time  of  the  Christiana  affair,  September  11, 1851, 
and  these  fateful  documents  were  quickly  destroyed.  Had 
they  been  discovered  6y  the  officers  that  visited  Parker's 

1  See  Chap.  XI,  p.  346. 

"  Conversation  with  Eohert  Purvis,  Philadelphia,  Pa.,  December  24,  1895. 

»  Smedley,  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  56,  57. 


house,  they  might  have  brought  disaster  upon  many  persons. ^ 
Thus,  the  need  of  secrecy  constantly  served  to  prevent  the 
making  of  records,  or  to  bring  about  their  early  destruction. 
The  written  and  printed  records  do  give  a  multitude  of 
unquestioned  facts  about  the  Underground  Railroad;  but 
when  wishing  to  find  out  the  details  of  rational  management, 
the  methods  of  business,  and  the  total  amount  of  traffic,  we 
are  thrown  back  on  the  recollections  of  living  abolitionists  as 
the  main  source  of  information ;  from  them  the  gaps  in  the 
real  history  of  the  Underground  Railroad  must  be  filled,  if 
filled  at  all. 

It  is  with  the  aid  of  such  memorials  that  the  present  vol- 
ume has  been  written.  Reminiscences  have  been  gathered 
by  correspondence  and  by  travel  from  many  surviving  aboli- 
tionists or  their  families ;  and  recollections  of  fugitive  slave 
days  have  been  culled  from  books,  newspapers,  letters  and 
diaries.  During  three  years  of  the  five  years  of  preparation 
the  author's  residence  in  Ohio  afforded  him  opportunity  to 
visit  many  places  in  that  state  where  former  employees  of 
the  Underground  Railroad  could  be  found,  and  to  extend 
these  explorations  to  southern  Michigan,  and  among  the  sur- 
viving fugitives  along  the  Detroit  River  in  the  Province  of 
Ontario.  Residence  in  Massachusetts  during  the  years  1895- 
1897  has  enabled  him  to  secure  some  interesting  information 
in  regard  to  underground  lines  in  New  England.  The  mate- 
rials thus  collected  relate  to  the  following  states :  Iowa,  Wis- 
consin, Illinois,  Indiana,  Ohio,  Michigan,  Pennsylvania,  New 
Jersey,  New  York,  Connecticut,  New  Hampshire,  Rhode 
Island,  Massachusetts  and  Vermont,  besides  a  few  items  con- 
cerning North  Carolina,  Maryland  and  Delaware. 

Underground  operations  practically  ceased  with  the  begin- 
ning of  the  Civil  War.  In  view  of  the  lapse  of  time,  the 
reasons  for  trusting  the  credibility  of  the  evidence  upon 
which  our  knowledge  of  the  Underground  Road  rests  should 
be  stated.  Some  of  the  testimony  dealt  with  in  this  chapter 
was  put  in  writing  during  the  period  of  the  Road's  operation, 
or  at  the  close  of  its  activity,  and,  therefore,  cannot  be  easily 
questioned.      But  it  may  be  said  that  a  large  part  of  the 

1  Smedley,  Underground  Mailroad,  pp.  120,  121. 


materials  for  this  history  were  drawn  from  written  and  oral 
accounts  obtained  at  a  much  later  date ;  and  that  these  mate- 
rials, even  though  the  honesty  and  fidelity  of  the  narrators 
be  granted,  are  worthy  of  little  credit  for  historical  purposes. 
Such  a  criticism  would  doubtless  be  just  as  applied  to  remin- 
iscences purporting  to  represent  particular  events  with  great 
detail  of  narration,  but  clearly  it  would  lose  much  of  its 
force  when  directed  against  recollections  of  occurrences  that 
came  within  the  range  of  the  narrator's  experience,  not  once 
nor  twice,  but  many  times  with  little  variation  in  their  main 
features.  It  would  be  difficult  to  imagine  an  "  old-time " 
abolitionist,  whose  faculties  are  in  a  fair  state  of  preservation, 
forgetting  that  he  received  fugitives  from  a  certain  neighbor 
or  community  a  few  miles  away,  that  he  usually  stowed 
them  in  his  garret  or  his  haymow,  and  that  he  was  in  the 
habit  of  taking  them  at  night  in  all  kinds  of  weather  to  one 
of  several  different  stations,  the  managers  of  which  he  knew 
intimately  and  trusted  implicitly.  Not  only  did  repetition 
serve  to  deepen  the  general  recollections  of  the  average  opera- 
tor, but  the  strange  and  romantic  character  of  his  unlawful 
business  helped  to  fix  them  in  his  mind.  Some  special  occur- 
rences he  is  apt  to  remember  with  vividness,  because  they 
were  in  some  way  extraordinary.  If  it  be  argued  that  the 
surviving  abolitionists  are  now  old  persons,  it  should  not  be 
forgotten  that  it  is  a  fact  of  common  observation  that  old  per- 
sons ordinarily  remember  the  occurrences  of  their  youth  and 
prime  better  than  events  of  recent  date.  The  abolitionists, 
as  a  class,  were  people  whose  remembrances  of  the  ante-bel- 
lum days  were  deepened  by  the  clear  definition  of  their  gov- 
erning principles,  the  abiding  sense  of  their  religious  convic- 
tions, and  the  extraordinary  conditions,  legal  and  social, 
under  which  their  acts  were  performed.  The  risks  these 
persons  ran,  the  few  and  scattered  friends  they  had,  the  con- 
centration of  their  interests  into  small  compass,  because  of 
the  disdain  of  the  communities  where  they  lived,  have  se- 
cured to  us  a  source  of  knowledge,  the  value  of  which  cannot 
be  lightly  questioned.  If  there  be  doubt  on  this  point,  it 
must  give  way  before  the  manner  in  which  statements  gath- 
ered from  different  localities  during  the  last  five  years  articu- 


late  together,  the  testimony  of  different  and  sometimes  widely 
separated  witnesses  combining  to  support  one  another.^ 
'  The  elucidation  by  new  light  of  some  obscure  matter 
already  reported,  the  verification  by  a  fresh  witness  of  some 
fact  already  discovered,  gives  at  once  the  rule  and  test  of  an 
investigation  such  as  this.  Out  of  many  illustrations  that 
might  be  given,  the  following  are  offered.  Mr.  J.  M.  Forsyth, 
of  Northwood,  Logan  County,  Ohio,  writes  under  date  Sep- 
tember 22,  1894:  "In  Northwood  there  is  a  denomination 
known  as  Covenanters ;  among  them  the  runaways  were  safe. 
Isaac  Patterson  has  a  cave  on  his  place  where  the  fugitives 
were  secreted  and  fed  two  or  three  weeks  at  a  time  until 
the  hunt  for  them  was  over.  Then  friends,  as  hunters,  in 
covered  wagons  would  take  them  to  Sandusky.  The  highest 
number  taken  at  one  time  was  seven.  The  conductors  were 
mostly  students  from  Northwood.  All  I  did  was  to  help  get 
up  the  team.  .  .  ." 

The  Rev.  J.  S.  T.  Milligan,  of  Esther,  Pennsylvania,  Decem- 
ber 5,  1896,  writes  entirely  independently:  "In  1849  my 
brother  .  .  .  and  I  went  ...  to  Logan  Co.,  Ohio,  to  conduct 
a  grammar  school  ...  at  a  place  called  Northwood.  The 
school  developed  into  a  college  under  the  title  of  Geneva 
Hall.  J.  R.  W.  Sloane'^  .  .  .  was  elected  President  and 
moved  to  Northwood  in  1851.  .  .  .  The  region  was  settled 
by  Covenanters  and  Seceders,  and  every  house  was  a  home 
for  the  wanderers.  But  there  was  a  cave  on  the  farm  of  a 
man  by  the  name  of  Patterson,  absolutely  safe  and  fairly 

1  The  value  of  reminiscences  and  memoirs  Is  considered  in  an  article  on 
"  EecoUections  as  a  Source  of  History,"  by  the  Hon.  Edward  L.  Pierce,  in 
the  Proceedings  of  the  Massachusetts  Mistorical  Society,  March  and  April, 
1896,  pp.  473-490.  This,  with  the  remarks  of  Professor  H.  Morse  Stephens 
in  his  article  entitled  "  Eecent  Memoirs  of  the  French  Directory,"  American 
Historical  Review,  April,  1896,  pp.  475,  476,  489,  should  be  read  as  a  cor- 
rective by  the  student  that  finds  himself  constrained  to  have  recourse  to 
recollections  for  information. 

2  The  Rev.  J.  R.  W.  Sloane,  D.D.,  was  the  father  of  Professor  William  M. 
Sloane,  of  Columbia  University,  New  York  City.  Professor  Sloane,  in  a 
letter  recently  received,  says:  "The  first  clear,  conscious  memory  I  have  is 
of  seeing  slaves  taken  from  our  garret  near  midnight,  and  forwarded  towards 
Sandusky.  I  also  remember  the  formal,  but  rather  friendly,  visitation  of 
the  house  by  the  sheriff's  posse."    Sate  of  letter,  Paris,  November  19,  1896 


comfortable  for  fugitives.  In  one  instance  thirteen  fugitives, 
after  resting  in  the  cave  for  some  days,  were  taken  by  the 
students  in  two  covered  wagons  to  Sandusky,  some  90  miles, 
where  I  had  gone  to  engage  passage  for  them  on  the  Bay 
City  steamboat  across  the  lake  to  Maiden — where  I  saw  them 
safely  landed  on  free  soil,  to  their  unspeakable  joy.  Indeed, 
I  thought  one  old  man  would  have  died  from  the  gladness 
of  his  heart  in  being  safe  in  freedom.  I  went  from  Belle 
Centre  [near  Northwood]  by  rail,  and  did  not  go  with  the 
land  escort — but  from  what  they  told  me  of  their  expe- 
rience, it  was  often  amusing  and  sometimes  thrilling.  They 
were  ostensibly  a  hunting  party  of  10  or  12  armed  men.  .  .  . 
The  two  covered  wagons  were  a  'sanctum  sanctorum'  into 
which  no  mortal  was  allowed  to  peep.  .  .  .  The  word  of 
command,  '  Stand  back,'  was  always  respected  by  those  who 
were  unduly  intent  upon  seeing  the  thirteen  deer  .  .  . 
brought  from  the  woods  of  Logan  and  Hardin  counties  and 
being  taken  to  Sandusky." 

In  the  same  letter  Mr.  Milligan  corroborates  some  infor- 
mation secured  from  the  Eev.  R.  G.  Ramsey,  of  Cadiz,  Ohio, 
August  18,  1892,  in  regard  to  an  underground  route  in 
southern  Illinois.  Mr.  Ramsey  related  that  his  father,  Robert 
Ramsey,  first  engaged  in  Underground  Railroad  work  at 
Eden,  Randolph  County,  Illinois,  in  1844,  and  that  he  carried 
it  on  at  intervals  until  the  War.  "  The  fugitives,"  he  said, 
"came  up  the  river  to  Chester,  Illinois,  and  there  they 
started  northeast  on  the  state  road,  which  followed  an  old 
Indian  trail.  The  stations  were  each  in  a  community  of 
Covenanters,  ..."  and  existed,  according  to  his  account, 
at  Chester,  Eden,  Oakdale,  Nashville  and  Centralia.  "Be- 
sides my  father,"  said  Mr.  Ramsey,  "  John  Hood  and  two 
brothers,  James  B.  and  Thomas  McClurkin,  lived  in  Oakdale, 
where  my  father  lived  during  the  last  thirty-five  years  of  his 
life.  He  lived  in  Eden  before  this  time.  .  .  . "  ^  The  Rev. 
Mr.  Milligan  writes  as  follows:  "My  father  removed  to 
Randolph  Co.,  111.,  in  1847,  and  with  Rev.  Wm.  Sloane  .  .  . 
and  the  Covenanter  congregations  under  their  ministry  kept 
a  very  large  depot  wide  open  for  slaves  escaping  from  Mis- 

1  Conversation  with  the  Eev.  E.  G.  Eamsey,  Cadiz,  Ohio,  August  18,  1892. 


souri.  Scores  at  a  time  came  to  Sparta  [the  post-office  of 
the  Eden  settlement  mentioned  above]  —  my  father's  region, 
■were  harbored  there,  .  .  .  and  finally  escorted  to  Elkhorn 
[about  two  miles  from  Oakdale],  the  region  of  Father  Sloane, 
where  they  were  sheltered  and  escorted  ...  to  some  friends 
in  the  region  of  Nashville,  111.,  and  thence  north  on  the  regu- 
lar trail  which  I  am  not  able  further  to  locate.  At  Sparta, 
Coultersville  and  Elkhorn  there  was  an  almost  constant 
supply  of  fugitives.  .  .  .  But  .  .  .  few  were  ever  gotten 
from  the  aegis  of  the  Hayes  and  Moores  and  Todds  and 
McLurkins  and  Hoods  and  Sloanes  and  Milligans  of  that 

The  evidence  above  quoted  has  the  well-known  value  of 
two  witnesses,  examined  apart,  who  corroborate  each  other; 
and  it  also  illustrates  the  way  in  which  the  pieces  of  under- 
ground routes  may  be  joined  together.  These  letters,  together 
with  some  additional  testimony,  enable  us  to  trace  on  the  map 
a  section  of  a  secret  line  of  travel  in  southern  Illinois. 

Another  example  throws  light  on  a  channel  of  escape  in 
northeastern  Indiana.  While  Levi  Coffin  lived  at  Newportt 
(now  Fountain  City),  Indiana,  he  sometimes  sent  slaves  north- 
ward by  way  of  what  he  called  "  the  Mississinewa  route,"  ^  from 
the  Mississinewa  River,  near  which  undoubtedly  it  ran  for  a 
considerable  distance.  This  road  seems  to  have  been  called 
also  the  Grant  County  route.  In  the  most  general  way  only 
do  these  descriptions  tell  anything  about  the  route.  However, 
correspondence  with  several  people  of  Indiana  has  brought  it 
to  light.  One  letter^  informs  us  in  regard  to  fugitives  de- 
parting from  Newport :  "  If  they  came  to  Economy  they  were 
sent  to  Grant  Co.  .  .  ."  Now,  so  far  as  known,  Jonesboro' 
was  the  next  locality  to  which  they  were  usually  forwarded, 
and  the  line  from  this  point  northward  is  given  us  by  the 
Hon.  John  Ratliff,  of  Marion,  Indiana,  who  had  been  over  it 
with  passengers.  He  says  that  the  first  station  north  of 
Jonesboro'  was   North   Manchester,  where  "  Morris "  Place 

1  Beminiscences,  p.  184. 

2  Letter  of  John  Charles,  Economy,  Wayne  County,  Indiana,  January  9, 
1896.  Mr.  Charles  is  a  Quaker,  and  took  part  in  the  underground  work  at 


was  agent;  the  next  station,  Goshen,  where  Dr.  Matchett 
harbored  fugitives;  and  thence  the  line  ran  to  Young's 
Prairie,^  which  is  in  Cass  County,  Michigan.  The  same  sec- 
tion of  Road,  but  with  a  few  additional  stations,  is  marked  out 
by  William  Hayward.  The  additional  stations  may  not  have 
existed  at  the  time  when  Mr.  RatlifE  served  as  a  guide,  or  he 
may  have  forgotten  to  mention  them.  Mr.  Hayward  writes : 
"  My  cousin,  Maurice  Place,  often  brought  carriage  loads  of 
colored  people  from  North  Manchester,  Wabash  Co.,  to  my 
father's  house,  six  miles  west  of  Manchester  on  the  Rochester 
road.  .  .  .  We  would  keep  them  .  .  .  until  sometime  in  the 
night ;  then  my  father  would  go  with  them  to  Avery  Brace's 
.  .  .  three  miles  .  .  .  north,  through  the  woods.  He  took 
them  .  .  .  seven  miles  farther  ...  to  Chauncey  Hurlburt's 
in  Kosciusko  Co.  .  .  .  They  (the  Hurlburts)  took  them 
twelve  miles  farther  ...  to  Warsaw,  to  a  man  by  the  name 
of  Gordon,  and  he  took  them  to  Dr.  Matchett's  in  Elkhart 
Co.,  not  far  from  Goshen.  There  were  friends  there  to  help 
them  to  Michigan."  ^ 

In  weighing  the  testimony  amassed,  the  author  has  had 
the  advantage  of  personal  acquaintance  with  many  of  those 
furnishing  information ;  and  the  internal  evidence  of  letters 
has  been  considered  in  estimating  the  worth  of  written  testi- 
mony. Doubtless  the  work  could  have  been  more  thoroughly 
executed,  if  the  collection  of  materials  had  been  systemati- 
cally undertaken  by  some  one  a  decade  or  two  earlier.  It  is 
certain  that  it  could  not  have  been  postponed  to  a  later 
period.  Since  the  inception  of  this  research  the  ravages  of 
time  have  greatly  thinned  the  company  of  witnesses,  who 
count  it'  among  their  chiefest  joys  that  they  were  permitted 
to  live  to  see  their  country  rid  of  slavery,  and  the  negro  race 
a  free  people. 

1  Letter  from  Charles  W.  Osbom,  Economy,  Indiana,  March  4,  1896.  Mr. 
Osborn  obtained  the  nameS  of  stations  in  conversation  with  Mr.  Ratliff. 

2  Letter  of  'William  Hayward. 










Mr,  Hopper  is  supposed  to  have  resorted  to  underground  methods  as  early  as  1787. 



The  Underground  Road  developed  in  a  section  of  country- 
rid  of  slavery,  and  situated  between  two  regions,  from  one  of 
which  slaves  were  continually  escaping  with  the  prospect  of 
becoming  indisputably  free  on  crossing  the  borders  of  the 
other.  Not  a  few  persons  living  within  the  intervening  ter- 
ritory were  deeply  opposed  to  slavery,  and  although  they 
were  bound  by  law  to  discountenance  slaves  seeking  free- 
dom, they  felt  themselves  to  be  more  strongly  bound  by  con- 
science to  give  them  help.  Thus  it  happened  that  in  the 
course  of  the  sixty  years  before  the  outbreak  of  the  War 
of  the  Rebellion  the  Northern  states  became  traversed  by 
numerous  secret  pathways  leading  from  Southern  bondage 
to  Canadian  liberty. 

Slavery  was  put  in  process  of  extinction  at  an  early  period 
in  Pennsylvania,  New  Jersey,  New  York  and  the  New  Eng- 
land states.  From  the  five  and  a  fraction  states  created  out 
of  the  Northwestern  Territory  slavery  was  excluded  by 
the  Ordinance  of  1787.  It  is  interesting  to  note  how  rapid 
was  the  progress  of  emancipation  in  the  Northeastern  states, 
where  the  conditions  of  climate,  industry  and  public  opinion 
were  unfavorable  to  the  continuance  of  slavery.  In  1777 
emancipation  was  begun  by  the  action  of  Vermont,  which 
upon  its  separation  from  New  York  adopted  a  constitution 
in  which  slavery  was  prohibited.  Pennsylvania  and  Massa- 
chusetts took  action  three  years  later.  Pennsylvania  pro- 
vided by  statute  for  gradual  abolition,  and  its  example  was 
followed  by  Rhode  Island  and  Connecticut  in  1784,  by  New 
York  in  1799,  and  by  New  Jersey  in  1804.  Massachusetts 
was  less  direct,  but  not  less  effective,  in  securing  the  extinc- 
tion of  slavery ;  happily  it  had  inserted  in  the  declaration  of 
o  17 


rights  prefixed  to  its  constitution:  "All  men  are  born  free 
and  equal,  and  have  certain  natural,  essential  and  inalien- 
able rights."  ^  This  clause  received  at  a  later  time  strict 
interpretation  at  the  bar  of  the  state  supreme  court,  and 
slavery  was  held  to  have  ceased  with  the  year  1780. 

There  is  little  to  be  said  about  the  remaining  group  of 
states  with  which  we  are  here  concerned.  Their  territorial 
organizations  were  effected  under  the  provisions  of  the  Ordi- 
nance of  1787.  One  of  the  most  important  of  these  pro- 
visions is  as  follows :  "  There  shall  be  neither  slavery  nor 
involuntary  servitude  in  the  said  Territory,  otherwise  than 
in  the  punishment  of  crimes  whereof  the  party  shall  have 
been  duly  convicted."  ^  It  was  this  feature,  introduced  into 
the  great  Ordinance  by  New  England  men,  that  rendered 
futile  the  many  attempts  subsequently  made  by  Indiana  Ter- 
ritory to  have  slavery  admitted  within  its  own  boundaries  by 
congressional  enactment.  "  It  is  probable,"  says  Rhodes, 
"  that  had  it  not  been  for  the  prohibitory  clause,  slavery 
would  have  gained  such  a  foothold  in  Indiana  and  Illinois 
that  the  two  would  have  been  organized  as  slaveholding 
states."  ^  The  five  states,  Ohio,  Indiana,  Illinois,  Michigan 
and  Wisconsin  were  therefore  admitted  to  the  Union  as  free 
states.  West  of  the  Mississippi  River  there  is  one  state,  at 
least,  that  must  be  added  to  the  group  just  indicated,  namely, 
Iowa.  Slaveholding  was  prevented  within  its  domain  by 
the  Act  of  Congress  of  1820,  prohibiting  slavery  in  the 
territory  acquired  under  the  Louisiana  purchase  north  of 
latitude  36°  30',  and  several  years  before  this  law  was 
abrogated  Iowa  had  entered  statehood  with  a  constitution 
that  fixed  her  place  among  the  free  commonwealths.  The 
enfranchisement  of  this  extended  region  was  thus  accom- 
plished by  state  and  national  action.  The  ominous  result 
was  the  establishment  of  a  sweeping  line  of  frontier  between 
the  slaveholding  South  and  the  non-slaveholding  North,  and 
thereby  the  propounding  to  the  nation  of   a  new  question, 

1  Constitution  of  Massachusetts,  Part  I,  Art.  1 ;  quoted  by  Du  Bois,  Sup- 
pression of  the  Slave  Trade,  p.  225. 

2  See  Appendix  A,  p.  359. 

'  History  of  the  United  States,  Vol.  I,  p.  16. 


that  of  the  status  of  fugitives  in  free  regions.  The  elements 
were  in  the  proper  condition  for  the  crystallization  of  this 
question.      — 

The  colonies  generally  had  found  it  necessary  to  provide 
regulations  in  regard  to  fugitives  and  the  restoration  of  them 
to  their  masters.  Such  provisions,  it  is  probable,  were  reason- 
ably well  observed  as  long  as  runaways  did  not  escape  beyond 
the  borders  of  the  colonies  to  which  their  owners  belonged ; 
but  escapes  from  the  territory  of  one  colony  into  that  of  an- 
other were  at  first  left  to  be  settled  as  the  state  of  feeling 
existing  between  the  two  peoples  concerned  should  dictate. 
In  1643  the  New  England  Confederation  of  Plymouth,  Massa-' 
chusetts,  Connecticut  and  New  Haven,  unwilling  to  leave  the 
subject  of  the  delivery  of  fugitives  longer  to  intercolonial 
comity,  incorporated  a  clause  in  their  Articles  of  Confedera- 
tion providing :  "  If  any  servant  runn  away  from  his  master 
into  any  other  of  these  confederated  Jurisdiccons,  That  in 
such  case  vpon  the  Certyficate  of  one  Majistrate  in  the  Juris- 
diccon  out  of  which  the  said  servant  fled,  or  upon  other  due 
proofs,  the  said  servant  shall  be  deliuered  either  to  his  Mas- 
ter or  any  other  that  pursues  and  brings  such  Certificate  or 
proofe."  About  the  same  time  an  agreement  was  entered  into 
between  the  Dutch  at  New  Netherlands  and  the  English  at 
New  Haven  for  the  mutual  surrender  of  fugitives,  a  step  that 
was  preceded  by  a  complaint  from  the  commissioners  of  the 
United  Colonies  to  Governor  Stuyvesant  of  New  Netherlands, 
to  the  effect  that  the  Dutch  agent  at  Hartford  was  harboring 
one  of  their  Indian  slaves,  and  by  the  refusal  to  return  some 
of  Stuyvesant's  runaway  servants  from  New  Haven  until  the 
redress  of  the  grievance.  It  was  only  when  some  of  the  fugi- 
tives had  been  restored  to  New  Netherlands,  and  a  proclama- 
tion, issued  in  a  spirit  of  retaliation  by  the  Lords  of  the  West 
India  Company,  forbidding  the  rendition  of  fugitive  slaves  to 
New  Haven,  had  been  annulled,  that  the  agreement  for  the 
mutual  surrender  of  runaways  was  made  by  the  two  parties. 
Negotiations  in  regard  to  fugitives  early  took  place  between 
Maryland  and  New  Netherlands ;  at  one  time  on  account  of 
the  flight  of  some  slaves  from  the  Southern  colony  into  the 
Northern  colony,  and  later  on  account  of  the  reversal  of  the 


conditions.  The  temper  of  the  Dutch  when  calling  for  their 
servants  in  1659  was  not  conciliatory,  for  they  threatened,  if 
their  demand  should  be  refused,  "to  publish  free  liberty, 
access  and  recess  to  all  planters,  servants,  negroes,  fugitives, 
and  runaways  which  may  go  into  New  Netherland."  The 
escape  of  fugitives  from  the  Eastern  colonies  northward  to 
Canada  was  also  a  constant  source  of  trouble  between  the 
French  and  the  Dutch,  and  between  the  French  and  English.^ 

When,  therefore,  emancipation  acts  were  passed  by  Ver- 
mont and  four  other  states  the  new  question  came  into  exist- 
ence. It  presented  itself  also  in  the  Western  territories. 
The  framers  of  the  Northwest  Ordinance  found  themselves 
confronted  by  the  question,  and  they  dealt  with  it  in  the 
spirit  of  compromise.  They  enacted  a  stipulation  for  the 
territory,  "that  any  person  escaping  into  the  same,  from 
whom  labor  or  service  is  lawfully  claimed  in  any  one  of  the 
original  states,  such  fugitive  may  be  lawfully  reclaimed  and 
conveyed  to  the  person  claiming  his  or  her  labor  or  service 
aforesaid."  ^ 

Meanwhile  the  Federal  Convention  in  Philadelphia  had  the 
same  question  to  consider.  The  result  of  its  deliberations  on 
the  point  was  not  different  from  that  of  Congress  expressed 
in  the  Ordinance.  Among  the  concessions  to  slavery  that 
the  Federal  Convention  felt  constrained  to  make,  this  provi- 
sion found  place  in  the  Constitution :  "  No  person  held  to 
service  or  labor  in  one  state  under  the  laws  thereof,  escaping 
into  another,  shall,  in  consequence  of  any  law  or  regulation 
therein,  be  discharged  from  such  service  or  labor,  but  shall 
be  delivered  up  on  claim  of  the  party  to  whom  such  service 
or  labor  may  be  due."  ^  Neither  of  these  clauses  appears  to 
have  been  subjected  to  much  debate,  and  they  were  adopted 
by  votes  that  testify  to  their  acceptableness  ;  the  former  re- 
ceived the  support  of  all  members  present  but  one,  the  latter 
passed  unanimously. 

In  the  sentiment  of  the  time  there  seems  to  have  been  no 

1  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  pp.  2-11. 
^  Journals  of  Congress,  XII,  84,  92. 

3  Constitution  of  the  United  States,  Art.  IV,  §  2.  See  Bevised  Statutes  of 
the  United  States,  I,  18.     See  also  Appendix  A,  p.  359. 


sense  of  humiliation  on  the  part  of  the  North  over  the  con- 
clusions reached  concerning  the  rendition  of  escaped  slaves. 
It  had  been  seen  by  Northern  men  that  the  subject  was  one 
requiring  conciliatory  treatment,  if  it  were  not  to  become  a 
block  in  the  way  of  certain  Southern  states  entering  the 
Union;  and,  besides,  the  opinion  generally  prevailed  that 
slavery  would  gradually  disappear  from  all  the  states,  and 
the  riddle  would  thus  solve  itself.^  The  South  was  pleased, 
but  apparently  not  exultant,  over  the  supposed  security 
gained  for  its  slave  property.  General  C.  C.  Pinckney,  of 
South  Carolina,  probably  expressed  the  view  of  most  South- 
erners when  he  said  that  the  terms  for  the  security  of  slave 
property  gained  by  his  section  were  not  bad,  although  they 
were  not  the  best  from  the  slaveholders'  standpoint,  and  that 
they  permitted  the  recapture  of  runaways  in  any  part  of 
America  —  a  right  the  South  had  never  before  enjoyed.^  In 
abstract  law  the  rights  of  the  slave-owner  had  in  truth  been 
well  provided  for.  Especially  deserving  of  note  is  the  fact 
that  a  constitutional  basis  had  been  furnished  for  claims 
which,  in  case  slavery  did  not  disappear  from  the  country  — 
a  contingency  not  anticipated  by  the  fathers  —  might  be  in- 
sisted upon  as  having  the  fundamental  and  positive  sanction 
of  the  government.  But  what  would  be  the  fate  of  the  run- 
ning slave  was  a  matter  with  which,  after  all,  private  princi- 
ples and  sympathies,  and  not  merely  constitutional  provisions, 
would  have  a  good  deal  to  do  in  each  case. 

For  several  years  the  stipulations  for  the  rendition  of  fugi- 
tive slaves  remained  inoperative.  At  length,  in  1791,  a  case 
of  kidnapping  occurred  at  Washington,  Pennsylvania,  and 
this  served  to  bring  the  subject  once  more  to  the  public 
mind.  Early  in  1793  Congress  passed  the  first  Fugitive  Slave 
Law.^  This  law  provided  for  the  reclamation  of  fugitives 
from  justice  and  fugitives  from  labor.  We  are  concerned,  of 
course,  with  the  latter  class  only.  The  sections  of  the  act 
dealing  with  this  division  are  too  long  to  be  here  quoted : 

1  Elliot's  Debates.  See  also  George  Livermore's  Historical  Research 
Respecting  the  Opinions  of  the  Founders  of  the  Republic  on  Negroes,  as  Citi- 
zens and  as  Soldiers,  1862,  p.  51  et  seq. 

2  EUiot's  Debates,  UI,  277.  "  Appendix  A,  pp.  359-361. 


they  empowered  the  owner,  his  agent  or  attorney,  to  seize  the 
fugitive  and  take  him  before  a  United  States  circuit  or  dis- 
trict judge  within  the  state  where  the  arrest  was  made,  or 
before  any  local  magistrate  within  the  county  in  which  the 
seizure  occurred.  The  oral  testimony  of  the  claimant,  or  an 
affidavit  from  a  magistrate  in  the  state  from  which  he  came, 
must  certify  that  the  fugitive  owed  service  as  claimed.  Upon 
such  showing  the  claimant  secured  his  warrant  for  removing 
the  runaway  to  the  state  or  territory  from  which  he  had  fled. 
Five  hundred  dollars  fine  constituted  the  penalty  for  hinder- 
ing arrest,  or  for  rescuing  or  harboring  the  fugitive  after 
notice  that  he  or  she  was  a  fugitive  from  labor. 

All  the  evidence  goes  to  show  that  this  law  was  ineffec- 
tual ;  Mrs.  McDougall  points  out  that  two  cases  of  resistance 
to  the  principle  of  the  act  occurred  before  the  close  of  1793.^ 
Attempts  at  amendment  were  made  in  Congress  as  early  as 
the  winter  of  1796,  and  were  repeated  at  irregular  intervals 
down  to  1850.  Secret  or  "  underground  "  methods  of  rescue 
were  already  well  understood  in  and  around  Philadelphia  by 
1804.  Ohio  and  Pennsylvania,  and  perhaps  other  states, 
heeded  the  complaints  of  neighboring  slave  states,  and  gave 
what  force  they  might  to  the  law  of  1793  by  enacting  laws 
for  the  recovery  of  fugitives  within  their  borders.  The  law 
of  Pennsylvania  for  this  purpose  was  passed  the  same  year  in 
which  Mr.  Clay,  then  Secretary  of  State,  began  negotiations 
with  England  looking  toward  the  extradition  of  slaves  from 
Canada  (1826) ;  but  it  was  quashed  by  the  decision  of  the 
United  States  Supreme  Court  in  the  Prigg  case  in  1842.^  By 
1850  the  Northern  states  were  traversed  by  numerous  lines 
of  Underground  Railroad,  and  the  South  was  declaring  its 
losses  of  slave  property  to  be  enormous. 

The  result  of  the  frequent  transgressions  of  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  on  the  one  hand  and  of  the  clamorous  demand  for 
a  measure  adequate  to  the  needs  of  the  South  on  the  other, 
was  the  passage  of  a  new  Fugitive  Recovery  Bill  in  1850.^  The 

1  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  19. 

2  See  Chap.  IX,  pp.  259-267 ;  also  Stroud,  Sketch  of  the  Laws  Belating 
to  Slavery  in  the  Several  States,  2d  ed.,  pp.  220-222. 

0  Appendix  A,  pp.  361-366. 

FUGITIVE   SLAVE   LAW  OF   1850  23 

increased  rigor  of  the  provisions  of  this  act  was  ill  adapted 
to  generate  the  respect  that  a  good  law  secures,  and,  indeed, 
must  have  in  order  to  be  enforced.  The  law  contained  feat- 
ures sufficiently  objectionable  to  make  many  converts  to  the 
cause  of  the  abolitionists ;  and  a  systematic  evasion  of  the 
law  was  regarded  as  an  imperative  duty  by  thousands.  The 
Fugitive  Slave  Act  of  1850  was  based  on  the  earlier  law,  but 
was  fitted  out  with  a  number  of  clauses,  dictated  by  a  self- 
interest  on  the  part  of  the  South  that  ignored  the  rights  of 
every  party  save  those  of  the  master.  Under  the  regulations 
of  the  act  the/certificate  authorizing  the  arrest  and  removal 
of  a  fugitive  slave  was  to  be  granted  to  the  claimant  by  the 
United  States  commissioner,  the  courts,  or  the  judge  of  the 
proper  circuit,  district,  or  county.  If  the  arrest  were  made 
without  process,  the  claimant  was  to  take  the  fugitive  forth- 
with before  the  commissioner  or  other  official,  and  there  the 
case  was  to  be  determined  in  a  summary  manner.  The 
refusal  of  a  United  States  marshal  or  his  deputies  to  execute 
a  commissioner's  certificate,  properly  directed,  involved  a 
fine  of  one  thousand  dollars ;  and  failure  to  prevent  the  es- 
cape of  the  negro  after  arrest,  made  the  marshal  liable,  on 
his  official  bond,  for  the  value  of  the  slave.  When  necessary 
to  insure  a  faithful  observance  of  the  fugitive  slave  clause  in 
the  Constitution,  the  commissioners,  or  persons  appointed  by 
them,  had  the  authority  to  summon  the  posse  comitatus  of 
the  county,  and  "  all  good  citizens  "  were  "  commanded  to 
aid  and  assist  in  the  prompt  and  efficient  execution  "  of  the 
law.  The  testimony  of  the  alleged  fugitive  could  not  be  re- 
ceived in  evidence.  Ownership  was  determined  by  the  sim- 
ple affidavit  of  the  person  claiming  the  slave ;  and  when 
determined  it  was  shielded  by  the  certificate  of  the  commis- 
sioner from  "  all  molestation  ...  by  anj"-  process  issued  by 
any  court,  judge,  magistrate,  or  other  person  whomsoever." 
Any  act  meant  to  obstruct  the  claimant  in  his  arrest  of  the 
fugitive,  or  any  attempt  to  rescue,  harbor,  or  conceal  the  fugi- 
tive, laid  the  person  interfering  liable  "  to  a  fine  not  exceed- 
ing one  thousand  dollars,  and  imprisonment  not  exceeding 
six  months,"  also  liable  for  "  civil  damages  to  the  party  in- 
jured in  the  sum  of  one  thousand  dollars  for  each  fugitive  so 


lost."  In  all  cases  where  the  proceedings  took  place  befoi 
a  commissioner  he  was  "  entitled  to  a  fee  of  ten  dollars  i 
full  for  his  services,"  provided  that  a  warrant  for  the  fug 
tive's  arrest  was  issued ;  if,  however,  the  fugitive  was  di 
charged,  the  commissioner  was  entitled  to  five  dollars  onlyj 
By  the  abolitionists,  at  whom  it  was  directed,  tliis  law  wj 
detested.  A  government,  whose  first  national  manifesto  coi 
tained  the  exalted  principles  enshrined  in  the  Declaration  ( 
Independence,  stooping  to  the  task  of  slave-catching,  violate 
all  their  ideas  of  national  dignity,  decency  and  consistenc] 
Many  persons,  indeed,  justified  their  opposition  to  the  law  i 
the  familiar  words:  "We  hold  these  truths  to  be  self-eviden 
that  all  men  are  created  equal,  that  they  are  endowed  b 
their  Creator  with  certain  inalienable  rights,  that  amon 
these  are  life,  liberty,  and  the  pursuit  of  happiness."  Th 
scriptural  injunction  "  not  to  deliver  unto  his  master  th 
servant  that  hath  escaped,"  ^  was  also  frequently  quoted  b 
men  whose  religious  convictions  admitted  of  no  compromisf 
They  pointed  out  that  the  law  virtually  made  all  Norther 
citizens  accomplices  in  what  they  denominated  the  crime  c 
slave-catching ;  that  it  denied  the  right  of  trial  by  jury,  resi 
ing  the  question  of  lifelong-  liberty  on  ex-parte  evidence 
made  ineffective  the  writ  of  habeas  corpus;  and  offered 
bribe  to  the  commissioner  for  a  decision  against  the  negro 
The  penalties  of  fine  and  imprisonment  for  offenders  agains 
the  law  were  severe,  but  they  had  no  deterrent  effect  upo 
those  engaged  in  helping  slaves  to  Canada.  On  the  contrary 
the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850  stimulated  the  work  of  secre 
emancipation.  "  The  passage  of  the  new  law,"  says  a  recen 
investigator,  "  probably  increased  the  number  of  anti-slaver 
people  more  than  anything  else  that  had  occurred  during  th 
whole  agitation.  Many  of  those  formerly  indifferent  wei 
roused  to  active  opposition  by  a  sense  of  the  injustice  of  th 
Fugitive  Slave  Act  as  they  saw  it  executed  in  Boston  an 

1  Statutes  at  Large,  IX,  462-465. 

2  Deut.  xxiii,  15,  16. 

"  See  Some  Becollections  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  by  S.  J.  May,  p.  3'. 
et  seq. ;  Stroud's  Sketch  of  the  Laws  Relating  to  Slavery  in  the  Several  State 
2d  ed.,  1856,  pp.  271-280  ;■  "Wilson,  History  of  the  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Sla 
Power,  Vol.  II,  pp.  304-322. 


elsewhere.  ...  As  Mr.  James  Freeman  Clarke  has  said,  '  It 
was  impossible  to  convince  the  people  that  it  was  right  to 
send  back  to  slavery  men  who  were  so  desirous  of  freedom 
as  to  run  such  risks.  All  education  from  boyhood  up  to 
manhood  had  taught  us  to  believe  that  it  was  the  duty  of  all 
men  to  struggle  for  freedom.' "^ 

The  desire  for  freedom  was  in  the  mind  of  nearly  every  en- 
slaved negro.  Liberty  was  the  subject  of  the  dreams  and 
visions  of  slave  preachers  and  sibyls ;  it  was  the  object  of 
their  prayers.  The  plaintive  songs  of  the  enslaved  race  were 
full  of  the  thought  of  freedom.  It  has  been  well  said  that 
"  one  of  the  finest  touches  in  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin  is  the  joyful 
expression  of  Uncle  Tom  when  told  by  his  good  and  indul- 
gent master  that  he  should  be  set  free  and  sent  back  to  his 
old  home  in  Kentucky.  In  attributing  the  common  desire  of 
humanity  to  the  negro  the  author  was  as  true  as  she  was 
effective."  ^  To  slaves  living  in  the  vicinity,  Mexico  and 
Florida  early  afforded  a  welcome  refuge.  Forests,  islands 
and  swamps  within  the  Southern  states  were  favorite  places 
of  resort  for  runaways.  The  Great  Dismal  Swamp  became 
the  abode  of  a  large  colony  of  these  refugees,  whose  lives 
were  spent  in  its  dark  recesses,  and  whose  families  were 
reared  and  buried  there.  Even  in  this  retreat,  however,  the 
negroes  were  not  beyond  molestation,  for  they  were  systemat- 
ically hunted  by  men  with  dogs  and  guns.^  Scraps  of  in- 
formation about  Canada  and  the  Northern  states  were  gleaned 
and  treasured  by  minds  recognizing  their  own  degradation, 
but  scarcely  knowing  how  to  take  the  first  step  towards  the 
betterment  of  their  condition. 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  form  in  which  slavery  ex- 
isted in  the  South  during  the  opening  decade  of  the  present 
century  was  comparatively  mild ;  but  it  is  quite  clear  that  it 
soon  exchanged  this  character  for  one  from  which  the  amen- 

1  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  43 ;  J.  F.  Clarke,  Anti-Slavery 
Days,  p.  92. 

2  Rhodes,  History  of  the  United  States,  Vol.  I,  p.  377. 

« F.  L.  Olmsted,  Journey  in  the  Back  Country,  p.  155  ;  Rev.  W.  M. 
Mitchell,  The  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  72,  73  ;  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugi- 
tive Slaves,  p.  57. 


ities  of  the  patriarchal  type  had  practically  disappear' 
With  the  rapid  expansion  of  the  industries  peculiar  to 
South  after  the  opening  up  of  the  Louisiana  purchase, 
invention  of  the  cotton  gin,  and  the  removal  of  the  Indii 
from  the  Gulf  states,  came  the  era  of  the  slave's  dismay.  1 
auction  block  and  the  brutal  overseer  became  his  dread  wl 
awake,  his  nightmare  when  asleep.  That  his  fears  were  j 
ill  founded  is  proved  by  the  activity  of  the  slave-marts 
Baltimore,  Richmond,  New  Orleans  and  Washington  fr 
the  time  of  the  migrations  to  the  Mississippi  territory  ui 
the  War.  Alabama  is  said  to  have  bought  millions  of  doll 
worth  of  slaves  from  the  border  states  up  to  184:9.  Dew 
timated  that  six  thousand  slaves  were  carried  from  Virgii 
though  not  all  of  these  were  sold  to  other  states.^ 

The  fear  of  sale  to  the  far  South  must  have  stimulai 
slaves  to  flight.  That  the  number  of  escapes  did  increase 
deduced  from  the  consensus  of  abolitionist  testimony.  C 
sole  reliance  is  upon  this  testimony  until  the  appearance 
the  United  States  census  reports  for  1850  and  1860;^  a 
the  exhibits  on  fugitive  slaves  in  these  compendiums  we  i 
constrained  by  various  considerations  to  regard  as  inadequa 
However,  the  flight  of  slaves  from  the  South  was  not  w] 
the  new  conditions  would  readily  account  for.  We  m 
conclude,  therefore,  that  the  deterring  effect  of  ignorai 
and  the  sense  of  the  difficulties  in  the  way  we»e  reenforc 
after  1840  by  increased  vigilance  on  the  part  of  the  sla 
owning  class,  owing  to  the  rise  in  value  of  slave  proper 
"  Since  1840,"  says  a  careful  observer,  "  the  high  price 
slaves  may  be  supposed  ...  to  have  increased  the  vigilai 
and  energy  with  which  the  recapture  of  fugitives  is  foUov 
up,  and  to  have  augmented  the  number  of  free  negroes 
duced  to  slavery  by  kidnappers.  Indeed  it  has  led  t( 
proposition  being  quite  seriously  entertained  in  Virginia, 
enslaving  the  whole  body  of  the  free  negroes  in  that  state 
legislative  enactment."  ^     Then,  too,  the  negro's  attachm 

^  Edward  Ingle,  /Southern  Side-TJghCs,  p.  293. 

2  Tliese  reports  will  be  dealt  with  in  aiiotlier  connection.     See  Chap 
pp.  342,  343. 

3  G.  M.  Weston,  Progress  of  Slavery  in  the  United  States,  Washing 
D.C.,  1858,  pp.  22,  23. 

Vol.111.    N6.VW.      '        J17L\M837 

TWs  picture  of  apoor  fugitive  is  fronj  one  of  the  stereotypy  cuts  irjauufactured 
in  ttus  city  for  the  southern  maiket,  and  used  on  liandbills  otrering  rewards  fir 
runaway  slaves.  ,  i      ,  ■»  , 


(Slightly  enlarged  from  TKq  Anti-Sla'Dery  Record,  published  in  New  York  City  by  the  Araencan 
Anti-Slavery  Society.) 


to  the  land  of  his  birth,  and  to  his  kindred,  when  these  were 
not  torn  from  him,  must  be  allowed  to  have  hindered  flight 
in  many  instances ;  when,  however,  the  appearance  of  the 
dreaded  slave-dealer,  or  the  brutality  of  the  overseer  or  the 
master,  spread  dismay  among  the  hands  of  a  plantation,  flights 
were  likely  to  follow.  This  was  sometimes  the  case,  too, 
when  by  the  death  of  a  planter  the  division  of  his  property 
among  his  heirs  was  made  necessary.  William  Johnson,  of 
Windsor,  Ontario,  ran  away  from  his  Kentucky  master 
because  he  was  threatened  with  being  sent  South  to  the 
cotton  and  rice  fields.^  Horace  Washington,  of  Windsor, 
after  working  nearly  two  years  for  a  man  that  had  a  claim  on 
him  for  one  hundred  and  twenty-five  dollars,  reminded  his 
employer  that  the  original  agreement  required  but  one  year's 
labor,  and  asked  for  release.  Getting  no  satisfaction,  and 
fearing  sale,  he  fled  to  Canada.^  Lewis  Richardson,  one  of 
the  slaves  of  Henry  Clay,  sought  relief  in  flight  after  receiv- 
ing a  hundred  and  fifty  stripes  from  Mr.  Clay's  overseer.^ 
William  Edwards,  of  Amherstburg,  Ontario,  left  his  master 
on  account  "of  a  severe  flogging.*  One  of  the  station-keepers 
of  an  underground  line  in  Morgan  County,  Ohio,  recalls  an 
instance  of  a  family  of  seven  fugitives  giving  as  the  cause  of 
their  flight  the  death  of  their  master,  and  the  expected  scat- 
tering of  their  number  when  the  division  of  the  estate  should 

It  has  already  been  remarked  that  slaves  began  to  find  their 
way  to  Canada  before  the  opening  of  the  present  century,  but 
information  in  regard  to  that  country  as  a  place  of  refuge  can 
scarcely  be  said  to  have  come  into  circulation  before  the  War 
of  1812.  The  hostile  relations  existing  between  the  two  nations 
at  that  time  caused  negroes  of  sagacious  minds  to  seek  their 
liberty  among  the  enemies  of  the  United  States.®  Then,  too, 
soldiers  returning  from  the  War  to  their  homes  in  Kentucky 

1  Conversation  with  "William  Johnson,  "Windsor,  Ontario,  July,  1895. 

2  Conversation  with  Horace  "Washington,  Windsor,  Ontario,  Aug.  2,  1895. 
s  The  Liberator,  April  10,  1846. 

*  Conversation  with  William  Edwards,  Amhersthurg,  Ontario,  Aug.  .3, 

6  Letter  of  H.  C.  Harvey,  Manchester,  Kan. ,  Jan.  16,  1893. 

6  S.  G.  Howe,  The  Befugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  11, 12. 


and  Virginia  brought  the  news  of  the  disposition  of  the  Cana- 
dian government  to  defend  the  rights  of  the  self-emiuicipated 
slaves  under  its  jurisdiction.  Rumors  of  this  sort  gave  hope 
and  courage  to  the  blacks  that  heard  it,  and,  doubtless,  the 
welcome  reports  were  spread  by  these  among  trusted  compan- 
ions and  friends.  By  1815  fugitives  were  crossing  the  West- 
ern Reserve  in  Ohio,  and  regular  stations  of  the  Underground 
Railroad  were  lending  them  assistance  in  that  and  other  por- 
tions of  the  state.^ 

After  the  discovery  of  Canada  by  colored  refugees  from  the 
Southern  states,  it  was,  presumably,  not  long  before  some  of 
them,  returning  for  their  families  and  friends,  gave  circulation 
in  a  limited  way  to  reports  more  substantial  than  the  vague 
rumors  hitherto  afloat.  Among  the  escaped  slaves  that  carried 
the  promise  of  Canadian  liberty  across  Mason  and  Dixon's  line 
were  such  successful  abductors  as  Josiah  Henson  and  Harriet 
Tubman.  In  1860  it  was  estimated  that  the  number  of  ne- 
groes that  journeyed  annually  from  Canada  to  the  slave  states 
to  rescue  their  fellows  was  about  five  hundred.  It  was  said 
that  these  persons  "  carried  the  Underground  Railroad  and  the 
Underground  Telegraph  into  nearly  every  Southern  state."  ^ 
The  work  done  by  these  fugitives  was  supplemented  by  the 
cautious  dissemination  of  news  by  white  persons  that  went 
into  the  South  to  abduct  slaves  or  encourage  them  to  escape, 
or  while  engaged  there  in  legitimate  occupations  used  their 
opportunities  to  pass  the  helpful  word  or  to  afford  more  sub- 
stantial aid.  The  Rev.  Calvin  Fairbank,  the  Rev.  Charles  T. 
Torrey  and  Dr.  Alexander  M.  Ross  may  be  cited  as  notable 
examples  of  this  class.  The  latter,  a  citizen  of  Canada,  made 
extensive  tours  through  various  slave  states  for  the  express 
purpose  of  spreading  information  about  Canada  and  the  routes 
by  which  that  country  could  be  reached.  He  made  trips  into 
Maryland,  Kentucky,  Virginia  and  Tennessee,  and  did  not 
think  it  too  great  a  risk  to  make  excursions  into  the  more 
southern  states.  He  went  to  New  Orleans,  and  from  that 
point  set  out  on  a  journey,  in  the  course  of  which  he  visited 

»  Wilson,  History  of  the  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  II,  p.  63. 
»  Redpath,  The  Public  Life  of  Captain  John  Brown,  p.  229. 


Vicksburg,  Selma  and  Columbus,  Mississippi,  Augusta,  Geor- 
gia, and  Charleston,  South  Carolina.^ 

Considering  the  comparative  freedom  of  movement  between 
the  slave  and  the  free  states  along  the  border,  it  is  easy  to 
understand  how  slaves  in  Maryland,  Virginia,  Kentucky  and 
Missouri  might  pick  up  information  about  the  "  Land  of 
Promise  "  to  the  northward.  Isaac  White,  a  slave  of  Kanawha 
County,  Virginia,  was  shown  a  map  and  instructed  how  to  get 
to  Canada  by  a  man  from  Cleveland,  Ohio.  Allen  Sidney,  a 
negro  who  ran  a  steamboat  on  the  Tennessee  River  for  his 
master,  first  learned  of  Canada  from  an  abolitionist  at  Florence, 
Alabama.^  Until  the  contest  over  the  peculiar  institution  had 
become  heated,  it  was  not  an  uncommon  thing  for  slaves  to  be 
sent  on  errands,  or  even  hired  out  to  residents  of  the  border 
counties  of  the  free  states.  Notwithstanding  Ohio's  political 
antagonism  to  slavery  from  the  beginning,  there  was  a  "  tacit 
tolerance  "  of  slavery  by  the  people  of  the  state  down  to  about 
1835 ;  and  "  numbers  of  slaves,  as  many  as  two  thousand  it  was 
sometimes  supposed,  were  hired  .  .  .  from  Virginia  and  Ken- 
tucky, chiefly  by  farmers."  Doubtless  such  persons  heard 
more  or  less  about  Canada,  and  when  the  agitation  against 
slavery  became  vehement,  they  were  approached  by  friends, 
and  many  were  induced  to  accept  transportation  to  the  Queen's 

Depredations  of  this  sort  caused  alarm  among  slaveholders. 
They  sought  to  deter  their  chattels  from  flight  by  talking 
freely  before  them  about  the  rigors  of  the  climate  and  the 
poverty  of  the  soil  of  Canada.  Such  talk  was  wasted  on  the 
slaves,  who  were  shrewd  enough  to  discern  the  real  meaning 
of  their  masters.  They  were  alert  to  gather  all  that  was  said, 
and  interpret  it  in  the  light  of  rumors  from  other  sources. 
Thus,  masters  themselves  became  disseminators  of  information 

1  Dr.  A.  M.  Ross,  Recollections  and  Experiences  of  an  Abolitionist,  2d  ed., 
1876,  pp.  10,  11,  15,  39. 

2  Conversation  with  White  and  Sidney  in  Canada  West,  August,  1895. 

'  Eufus  King,  Ohio,  in  American  Commonwealths,  pp.  364,  365,  relates 
that  some  of  these  slaves  were  discharged  from  servitude  "  by  writs  of  habeas 
corpus  procured  in  their  names,"  and  that  "numbers  were  abducted  from 
the  slave  states  and  concealed,  or  smuggled  by  the  'Underground  Rail- 
road' into  Canada." 


they  meant  to  withliold.  In  this  and  other  ways  the  slaves  of 
the  border  states  heard  of  Canada.  The  sale  of  some  of  these 
slaves  to  the  South  helps  to  explain  the  knowledge  of  Canada 
possessed  by  many  blacks  in  those  distant  parts.  When  Mr. 
Ross  visited  Vicksburg,  Mississippi,  he  found  that  "  many  of 
these  negroes  had  heard  of  Canada  from  the  negroes  brought 
from  Virginia  and  the  border  slave  states ;  but  the  impression 
they  bad  was  that,  Canada  being  so  far  away,  it  would  be 
useless  to  try  to  reach  it."  ^  Notwithstanding  the  distance, 
the  number  of  successful  escapes  from  the  interior  as  well  as 
from  the  border  slave  states  seems  to  have  been  sufficient  to 
arouse  the  suspicion  in  the  minds  of  Southerners  that  a  secret 
organization  of  abolitionists  had  agents  at  work  in  the  South 
running  olf  slaves.  This  suspicion  was  brought  to  light  dur- 
ing the  trial  of  Richard  Dillingham  in  Tennessee  in  1849.^ 
The  labors  of  Mr.  Ross  several  years  later  gave  color  to  the 
same  notion.  These  facts  help  to  explain  the  insistence  of 
the  lower  Southern  states  on  the  passage  and  strict  enforce- 
ment of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  in  1850. 

With  the  growth  of  a  thing  so  unfavored  as  was  the  Un- 
derground Road,  local  conditions  must  have  a  great  deal  to 
do.  The  characteristics  of  small  and  scattered  localities, 
and  even  of  isolated  families,  are  of  the  first  importance  in 
the  consideration'  of  a  movement  such  as  this.  These  little 
communities  were  in  general  the  elements  out  of  which  the 
underground  system  built  itself  up.  The  sources  of  the  con- 
victions and  confidences  that  knitted  these  communities 
together  in  defiance  of  what  they  considered  unjust  law  can 
only  be  learned  by  the  study  of  local  conditions.  The  ii> 
corporation  in  the  Constitution  of  the  compromises  concern- 
ing slavery  doubtless  quieted  the  consciences  of  many  of  the 
early  friends  of  universal  liberty.  It  was  only  natural,  how- 
ever, that  there  should  be  some  that  would  hold  such  con- 
cessions to  be  sinful,  and  in  violation  of  the  principles  asserted 
in  the  Declaration  of  Independence  and  in  the  very  Preamble 
of  the  Constitution  itself.     These  persons  would  cling  tena- 

1  Dr.  A.  M.  Ross,  The  Recollections  and  Experiences  of  an  Abolitionist, 
p.  38. 

2  A.  L.  Benedict,  Memoir  of  Richard  Dillingham,  p.  17. 


ciously  to  their  -views,  and  would  aid  a  fugitive  slave  when- 
ever one  would  ask  protection  and  help.  It  is  not  strange 
that  representatives  of  this  class  should  be  found  more  fre- 
quently among  the  Quakers  than  any  other  sect.  In  south- 
eastern Pennsylvania  and  in  New  Jersey  the  work  of  helping 
slaves  to  escape  was,  for  the  most  part,  in  the  hands  of 
Quakers  from  the  beginning.  This  was  true  also  of  Wil- 
mington, Delaware,  New  Bedford,  Massachusetts,  and  Valley 
Falls,  Rhode  Island,  as  of  a  number  of  important  centres  in 
western  Pennsylvania,  and  eastern,  central  and  southwestern 
Ohio,  in  eastern  Indiana,  in  southern  ilichigan  and  in  eastern 

Anti-slavery  views  prevailed  against  the  first  attempts  at 
enforcement  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1793  in  Massa- 
chusetts, and  spread  to  other  localities  in  the  New  England 
states.  When  the  tide  of  emigration  to  the  Western  states 
set  in,  settlers  from  New  England  were  given  more  frequent 
occasions  to  put  their  principles  into  practice  in  their  new 
homes  than  they  had  known  in  the  seaboard  region.  The 
western  portions  of  New  York  and  Pennsylvania,  as  well  as 
the  neighboring  section  of  Ohio,  called  the  Western  Reserve, 
are  dotted  over  with  communities  where  negroes  learned  the 
meaning  of  Yankee  hospitality.  Like  Joshua  R.  Giddings, 
the  people  of  these  communities  claimed  to  have  borrowed 
their  abolition  sentiments  from  the  writings  of  Jefferson, 
whose  "  abolition  tract,"  Giddings  said,  "  was  called  the  Dec- 
laration of  Independence."  ^  In  northern  Illinois  there  were 
many  centres  of  the  New  England  type,  though,  of  course, 
not  all  the  underground  stations  in  that  region  were  kept  by 
New  Englanders. 

In  a  few  neighborhoods  settlers  from  the  Southern  states 
were  helpers.  These  persons  had  left  the  South  on  account 
of  slavery ;  they  preferred  to  raise  their  families  away  from 
influences  they  felt  to  be  harmful ;  and  they  pitied  the  slave. 
It  was  easy  for  them  to  give  shelter  to  the  self-freed  negro. 
/in  south  central  Ohio,  in  a  district  of  fo\ir  or  five  counties 
locally  known  as  the  old  Ghillicothe  Presbytery,  a  number  of 
the  early  preachers  were  anti-slavery  men  from  the  Southern 
1  George  W.  Julian,  Life  of  Joshua  B.  Giddings,  p.  157. 


states.  Among  the  number  were  John  Rankin,  of  Ripley, 
James  Gilliland,  of  Red  Oak,  Jesse  Lockhart,  of  Russellville, 
Robert  B.  Dobbins,  of  Sardinia,  Samuel  Crothers,  of  Green- 
field, Hugh  S.  Fullerton,  of  Ghillicothe,  and  William  Dickey, 
of  Ross  or  Fayette  County.  The  Presbyterian  churches 
over  which  these  men  presided  became  centres  of  opposition 
to  slavery,  and  fugitives  finding  their  way  into  the  vicinity 
of  any  one  of  them  were  likely  to  receive  the  needed  help.V 
The  stations  in  Bond,  Putnam  and  Bureau  counties,  Illinois, 
were  kept  in  part  by  anti-slavery  settlers  from  the  South. 

It  is  a  fact  worthy  of  record  in  this  connection  that  the 
teachings  of  the  two  sects,  the  Scotch  Covenanters  and  the 
Wesleyan  Methodists,  did  not  exclude  the  negro  from  the  bonds 
of  Christian  brotherhood,  and  where  churches  of  either  de- 
nomination existed  the  Road  was  likely  to  be  found  in  active 
operation.  Within  the  borders  of  Logan  County,  Ohio,  there 
were  a  number  of  Covenanter  homes  that  received  fugitives ; 
and  in  southern  Illinois,  between  the  towns  of  Chester  and 
Centralia,  there  was  a  series  of  such  hospitable  places. 
There  were  several  Wesleyan  Methodist  stations  in  Harrison 
County,  Ohio,  and  with  these  were  intermixed  a  few  of  the 
Covenanter  denomination. 

It  was  natural  that  negro  settlements  in  the  free  states 
should  be  resorted  to  by  fugitive  slaves.  The  colored  people 
of  Greenwich,  New  Jersey,  the  Stewart  Settlement  of  Jack- 
son County,  Ohio,  the  Upper  and  Lower  Camps,  Brown 
County,  Ohio,  and  the  Colored  Settlement,  Hamilton  County, 
Indiana,  were  active.  The  list  of  towns  and  cities  in  which 
negroes  became  coworkers  with  white  persons  in  harboring 
and  concealing  runaways  is  a  long  one.  Oberlin,  Ports- 
mouth and  Cincinnati,  Ohio,  Detroit,  Michigan,  Philadel- 
phia, Pennsylvania,  and  Boston,  Massachusetts,  will  suffice 
as  examples. 

The  principles  and  experience  gained  by  a  number  of  stu- 

1  History  of  Brown  County,  Ohio,  p.  313  et  seq.  Also  letter  of  Dr.  Isaac 
M.  Beck,  Sardinia,  O.,  Dec.  26,  1892.  Mr.  Beck  was  born  in  1807,  and 
knew  personally  the  clergymen  named.  He  joined  tlie  abolition  movement 
in  18.35.  His  excellent  letter  is  verified  in  various  points  by  other  corre- 


dents  while  attending  college  in  Oberlin  did  not  come  amiss 
later  when  these  young  men  established  themselves  in  Iowa. 
Professor  L.  F.  Parker,  after  describing  what  was  probably 
the  longest  line  of  travel  through  Iowa  for  escaped  slaves, 
says :  "  Along  this  line  Quakers  and  Oberlin  students  were 
the  chief  namable  groups  whose  houses  were  open  to  such 
travellers  more  certainly  than  to  white  men,"  ^  and  the  R»v. 
William  M.  Brooks,  a  graduate  of  Oberlin,  until  recently 
President  of  Tabor  College,  writes:  "The  stations  ...  in 
southwestern  Iowa  were  in  the  region  of  Civil  Bend,  where 
the  colony  from  Oberlin,  Ohio,  settled  which  afterwards 
settled  Tabor."  2 

The  origin  of  the  Underground  Road  dates  farther  back 
than  is  generally  known  ;  though,  to  be  sure,  the  different 
divisions  of  the  Road  were  not  contemporary  in  development. 
Two  letters  of  George  Washington,  written  in  1786,  give  the 
first  reports,  as  yet  known,  of  systematic  efforts  for  the  aid 
and  protection  of  fugitive  slaves.  One  of  these  letters  bears 
the  date  May  12,  and  the  other,  November  20.  In  the 
former,  Washington  speaks  of  the  slave  of  a  certain  Mr. 
Dalby  residing  at  Alexandria,  who  has  escaped  to  Philadel- 
phia, and  "  whom  a  society  of  Quakers  in  the  city,  formed 
for  such  purposes,  have  attempted  to  liberate."^  In  the 
latter  he  writes  of  a  slave  whom  he  sent  "  under  the  care  of 
a  trusty  overseer"  to  the  Hon.  William  Drayton,  but  who 
afterwards  escaped.  He  says :  "  The  gentleman  to  whose 
care  I  sent  him  has  promised  every  endeavor  to  apprehend 
him,  but  it  is  not  easy  to  do  this,  when  there  are  numbers 
who  would  rather  facilitate  the  escape  of  slaves  than  appre- 
hend them  when  runaways."  *  The  difficulties  attending  the 
pursuit  of  the  Drayton  slave,  like  those  in  the  other  case 
mentioned,  seem  to  have  been  associated  in  Washington's 
mind  with  the  procedure  of  certain  citizens  of  Pennsylvania; 
it  is  quite  possible  that  he  was  again  referring  to  the  Quaker 


•  Letter  from  Professor  L.  F.  Parker,  Grinnell,  Iowa,  Aug.  30,  1894. 
"  Letter  from  President  W.  M.  Brooks,  Tabor,  Iowa,  Oct.  11,  1894. 

»  Sparks's  Washington,  IX,  158,  quoted  in  Quakers  of  Fennsylvania,  by 
Dr.  A.  C.  Applegar,th,  Johns  Hopkins  Studies,  X,  p.  463. 

*  Lunt,  Origin  of  the  Late  War,  Vol.  I,  p.  20. 


society  in  Philadelphia.  However  that  may  be,  it  appears 
probable  that  the  record  of  Philadelphia  as  a  centre  of  active 
sympathy  with  the  fugitive  slave  was  continuous  from  the 
time  of  Washington's  letters.  In  1787  Isaac  T.  Hopper, 
who  soon  became  known  as  a  friend  of  slaves,  settled  in 
Philadelphia,  and,  although  only  sixteen  or  seventeen  years 
old,  had  already  taken  a  resolution  to  befriend  the  oppressed 
Africans.^  Some  cases  of  kidnapping  that  occurred  in  Co- 
lumbia, Pennsylvania,  in  1804,  stirred  the  citizens  of  that 
town  to  intervention  in  the  runaways'  behalf;  and  the  move- 
ment seems  to  have  spread  rapidly  among  the  Quakers  of 
Chester,  Lancaster,  York,  Montgomery,  Berks  and  Bucks 
counties.2  New  Jersey  was  probably  not  behind  southeast- 
ern Pennsylvania  in  point  of  time  in  Underground  Railroad 
work.  This  is  to  be  inferred  from  the  fact  that  the  adjacent 
parts  of  the  two  states  were  largely  settled  by  people  of  a 
sect  distinctly  opposed  to  slavery,  and  were  knitted  together 
by  those  ties  of  blood  that  are  known  to  have  been  favorable 
in  other  quarters  to  the  development  of  underground  routes. 
That  protection  was  given  to  fugitives  early  in  the  present 
century  by  the  Quakers  of  southwestern  New  Jersey  can 
scarcely  be  doubted ;  and  we  are  told  that  negroes  were 
being  transported  through  New  Jersey  before  1818.^  New 
York  was  closely  allied  with  the  New  Jersey  and  Philadel- 
phia centres  as  far  back  as  our  meagre  records  will  permit  us 
to  go.  Isaac  T.  Hopper,  who  had  grown  familiar  with  un- 
derground methods  of  procedure  in  Philadelphia,  moved  to 
New  York  in  1829.  No  doubt  his  philanthropic  arts  were 
soon  made  use  of  there,  for  in  1835  we  find  him  accused, 

1  L.  Maria  Child,  Life  of  Isaac  T.  Hopper,  1854,  p.  35. 

2  History  of  Chester  County,  Pennsylvania,  R.  C.  Smedley's  article  on  the 
"Underground  Railroad,"  p.  426;  also  Smedley,  Underground  Bailroad, 
p.  26. 

8  The  Rev.  Thomas  C.  Oliver,  born  and  raised  in  Salem,  N.J.,  says  that 
the  work  of  the  Underground  Railroad  was  going  on  before  he  was  horn, 
(1818)  and  continued  until  the  time  of  the  War.  Mr.  Oliver  was  raised  in 
the  family  of  Thomas  Clement,  a  member  of  the  Society  of  Friends.  He 
graduated  from  the  Prhiceton  Theological  Seminary  in  1856.  As  a  youth  he 
began  to  take  part  in  rescues.  Although  seventy-five  years  old  when  visited 
by  the  author,  he  was  vigorous  in  body  and  mind,  and  seemed  to  have  a 
remarkably  clear  memory. 


though  falsely  this  time,  of  harboring  a  runaway  at  his  store 
in  Pearl  Street.^  Frederick  Douglass  mentions  the  assistance 
rendered  by  Mr.  Hopper  to  fugitives  in  New  York;  and 
says  that  he  himself  received  aid  from  David  Ruggles,  a 
colored  man  and  coworker  with  tlie  venerable  Quaker .^ 
After  the  passage  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  in  1850,  New 
York  City  became  more  active  tlian  ever  in  receiving  and 
forwarding  refugees.^  This  city  at  the  mouth  of  the  Hud- 
son was  the  entrep6t  for  a  line  of  travel  by  way  of  Albany, 
Syracuse  and  Rochester  to  Canada,  and  for  another  line  di- 
verging at  Albany,  and  extending  by  the  way  of  Troy  to  the 
New  England  states  and  Canada ;  and  these  routes  appear 
to  have  been  used  at  an  early  date.  The  Elmira  route, 
which  connected  Philadelphia  with  Niagara  Falls  by  way  of 
Harrisburg,  Pennsylvania,  was  made  use  of  from  about  1850 
to  1860.  Its  comparatively  late  development  is  explained 
by  the  fact  that  one  of  its  principal  agents  was  a  fugitive 
slave,  John  W.  Jones,  who  did  not  settle  in  Elmira  until 
1844,  and  that  the  line  of  the  Northern  Central  Railroad  was 
not  completed  until  about  1850.*  In  western  New  York 
fugitives  began  to  arrive  from  the  neighboring  parts  of  Penn- 
sylvania and  Ohio  between  1835  and  1840,  if  not  earlier. 
Professor  Edward  Orton  recalls  that  in  1838,  soon  after  his 
father  moved  to  Buffalo,  two  sleigh-loads  of  negroes  from 
the  Western  Reserve  were  brought  to  the  house  in  the 
night-time ;  ^  and  Mr.  Frederick  Nicholson,  of  Warsaw,  New 
York,  states  that  the  underground  work  in  his  vicinity  began 
in  1840.     From  this  time  on  there  was  apparently  no  cessa- 

1  L.  Maria  Child,  Life  of  Isaac  T.  Hopper,  p.  316. 

^History  of  Florence,  llass.,  p.  131,  Charles  A.  Shefleld,  Editor. 

3  The  Underground  Road  was  active  in  Xew  York  City  at  a  much  earlier 
date  certainly  than  Lossing  gives.  He  says,  "  After  the  Fugitive  Slave  Lavf, 
the  Underground  Railroad  was  established,  and  the  city  of  New  York  became 
one  of  the  most  important  stations  on  the  road."  History  of  New  York, 
Vol.  n,  p.  655. 

*  Letter  of  Mrs.  Susan  L.  Crane,  Elmira,  Sept.  14,  1896.  Mrs.  Crane's 
father,  Mr.  Jervis  Langdon,  was  active  in  underground  work  at  Elmira,  and 
had  a  trusted  co-laborer  in  John  W.  Jones,  who  still  lives  in  Elmira. 

^  Conversation  with  Professor  Orton,  Ohio  State  University,  Columbus,  O., 


tion  of  migrations  of  fugitives  into  Canada  at  Black  Rock, 
Buffalo  and  other  points.^ 

The  remoteness  of  New  England  from  the  slave  states  did 
not  prevent  its  sharing  in  the  business  of  helping  blacks  to 
Canada.  In  Vermont,  which  seems  to  have  received  fugitives 
from  the  Troy  line  of  eastern  New  York,  the  period  of  activ- 
ity began  "  in  the  latter  part  of  the  twenties  of  this  century, 
and  lasted  till  the  time  of  the  Rebellion."  ^  In  New  Hamp- 
shire there  was  a  station  at  Canaan  after  1830,  and  probably 
before  that  time.^  The  Hon.  Mellen  Chamberlain,  of  Chelsea, 
Massachusetts,  personally  conducted  a  fugitive  on  two  occa- 
sions from  Concord,  New  Hampshire,  to  his  uncle's  at  Canter- 
bury, in  the  same  state  "  most  probably  in  1838  or  1839."  * 
This  thing  once  begun  in  New  Hampshire  seems  to  have  con- 
tinued steadily  during  the  decades  until  the  War  of  the  Re- 
bellion.^ As  regards  Connecticut  the  Rev.  Samuel  J.  May 
states  that  as  long  ago  as  1834  slaves  were  addressed  to  his 
care  while  he  was  living  in  the  eastern  part  of  the  state.^  In 
Massachusetts  the  town  of  Fall  River  became  an  important 
station  in  1839.^  New  Bedford,  Boston,  Marblehead,  Concord, 
Springfield,  Florence  and  other  places  in  Massachusetts  are 
known  to  have  given  shelter  to  fugitives  as  they  travelled 
northward.     Mr.  Simeon  Dodge,  of  Marblehead,  who  had  per- 

1  For  cases  of  arrivals  of  escaped  slaves  over  some  of  the  vrestem  New 
York  branches,  see  Sketches  in  the  History  of  the  Underground  Railroad,  by 
Eber  M.  Pettit,  1879.  These  sketches  were  first  published  in  the  Fredonia 
Censor,  the  series  closing  Nov.  18,  1868. 

2  Letter  of  Mr.  Aldis  O.  Brainerd,  St.  Albans,  Vt.,  Oct.  21,  1895. 

'  Letter  of  Mr.  Charles  E.  Lord,  Franklin,  Pa.,  July  6,  1896 :  "  My  ma- 
ternal grandfather,  James  Furber,  lived  for  several  years  in  Canaan,  N.  H., 
where  his  house  was  one  of  the  stations  of  the  Underground  Railway.  His 
father-in-law,  James  Harris,  who  lived  in  the  same  house,  had  been  engaged 
in  helping  fugitive  negroes  on  toward  Canada  ever  since  1830,  and  probably 
before  that  time." 

*  Letter  of  Judge  Mellen  Chamberlain,  Chelsea,  Mass.,  Feb.  1,  1896. 

6  Letter  of  Mr.  Thomas  P.  Cheney,  Ashland,  N.H.,  March  30,  1896. 

^  Recollections  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  p.  297. 

'  Elizabeth  Buffum  Chace,  Anti-Slavery  Reminiscences,  p.  27.  Mrs. 
Chace  says:  "From  the  time  of  the  arrival  of  James  Curry  at  Fall  River, 
and  his  departure  for  Canada,  in  1839,  that  town  became  an  important  station 
on  the  so-called  Underground  Railroad."  The  residence  of  Mrs.  Chace  was 
a  place  of  refuge  from  the  year  named. 


8onal  knowledge  of  what  was  going  on,  recollects  that  the 
Underground  Road  was  active  between  1840  and  1860,  and 
his  testimony  is  substantiated  by  that  of  a  number  of  other 
persons.^  Doubtless  there  was  underground  work  going  on 
in  Massachusetts  before  this  period,  but  it  was  probably  of  a 
less  systematic  character.  In  Maine  fugitives  frequently  ob- 
tained help  in  the  early  forties.  The  Rev.  O.  B.  Cheney, 
later  President  of  Bates  College,  was  concerned  in  a  branch 
of  the  Road  running  from  Portland  to  Effingham,  New  Hamp- 
shire, and  northward,  during  the  years  1843  to  1845.^  That 
later  conditions  probably  increased  the  labors  of  the  Maine 
abolitionists  appears  from  the  statement  of  Mr.  Brown 
Thurston,  of  Portland,  that  he  had  at  one  time  after  the  pas- 
sage of  the  second  Fugitive  Slave  Law  the  care  of  thirty 

Considering  the  geographical  situation  of  Ohio  and  western 
Pennsylvania,  the  period  of  their  settlement,  and  the  character 
of  many  of  their  pioneers,  it  is  not  strange  that  this  work 
should  have  become  established  in  this  region  earlier  than  in 
the  other  free  states  along  the  Ohio  River.  The  years  1815 
to  1817  witnessed,  so  far  as  we  now  know,  the  origin  of  under- 
ground lines  in  both  the  eastern  and  western  parts  of  this 
section.  Henry  Wilson  explains  this  by  saying  that  soldiers 
from  Virginia  and  Kentucky,  returning  home  after  the  War 
of  1812,  carried  back  the  news  that  there  was  a  land  of  free- 
dom beyond  the  lakes.  John  Sloane,  of  Ravenna,  David  Hud- 
son, the  founder  of  the  town  of  Hudson,  and  Owen  Brown, 
the  father  of  John  Brown  of  Osawattomie,  were  among  the 
first  of  those  known  to  have  harbored  slaves  in  the  eastern 
part.*  Edward  Howard,  the  father  of  Colonel  D.  W.  H. 
Howard,  of  Wauseon,  and  the  Ottawa  Indians  of  the  village 
of  Chief  Kinjeino  were  among  the  earliest  friends  of  fugitives 

1  Concerning  Springfield,  Mass.  see  Mason  A.  Green's  History  of  Spring- 
field, pp.  470,  471.  For  the  sentiment  of  New  Bedford,  see  Ellis's  History  of 
New  Bedford,  pp.  306,  307. 

2  Letter  of  the  Rev.  O.  B.  Cheney,  Pawtuxet,  R.I.,  Apr.  8,  1896. 
»  Letter  of  Mr.  Brown  Thurston,  Portland,  Me.,  Oct.  21,  1895. 

*  Wilson,  Hise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  II,  p.  63 ;  Alexander 
Black,  The  Story  of  Ohio,  see  account  of  the  Underground  Railroad. 


in  the  western  part.^  At  least  one  case  of  underground  pro- 
cedure is  reported  to  have  occurred  in  central  Ohio  as  early 
as  1812.  The  report  is  but  one  remove  from  its  original 
source,  and  was  given  to  Mr.  Robert  McCrory,  of  Marysville, 
Ohio,  by  Richard  Dixoji,  an  eye-witness.  The  alleged  run- 
away, seized  at  Delaware,  was  unceremoniously  taken  from 
the  custody  of  his  mounted  captor  when  the  two  reached 
Worthington,  and  was  brought  before  Colonel  James  Kil- 
bourne,  who  served  as  an  official  of  all  work  in  the  village 
he  had  founded  but  a  few  years  before.  By  Mr.  Kilbourne's 
decision,  the  negro  was  released,  and  was  then  sent  north 
aboard  one  of  the  government  wagons  engaged  at  the  time  in 
carrying  military  supplies  to  Sandusky.^  That  such  action 
was  not  inconsistent  with  the  character  of  Colonel  Kilbourne 
and  his  New  England  associates  is  evidenced  by  the  fact  that 
as  an  agent  for  "  The  Scioto  Company,"  formed  in  Granby, 
Connecticut,  in  the  winter  of  1801-1802,  he  had  delayed  the 
purchase  of  a  township  in  Ohio  for  settlement  until  a  state 
constitution  forbidding  slavery  should  be  adopted.^  If  now 
the  testimony  of  the  oldest  surviving  abolitionists  from  the 
different  regions  of  the  state  be  compared,  some  interest- 
ing results  may  be  found.  Job  jMuUin,  a  Quaker  of  War- 
ren County,  in  his  eighty-ninth  year  when  his  statement 
was  given,  says :  "  The  most  active  time  to  my  knowledge 
was  from  1816  to  1830.  .  .  ."  In  1829  Mr.  MuUin 
moved  off  the  line  with  which  he  had  been  connected  and 
took  no  further  part  in  the  work.*  Mr.  Eliakim  H.  Moore, 
for  a  number  of  years  the  treasurer  of  Ohio  University 
at  Athens,  says  that .  the  work  began  near  Athens  during 
1823  and  182-1.  "  In  those  years  not  so  many  attempted  to 
escape  as  later,  from  1845  to  1860."  ^  Dr.  Thomas  Cowgill, 
an  aged  Quaker  of  Kennard,  Champaign  County,  recollects 
that  the  work  of  the  Underground  Railroad  began  in  his 

1  Letter  of  Col.  D.  W.  H.  Howard,  "Wauseon,  O.,  Aug.  22,  1894. 

2  Conversation  wUh  Robert  McCrory,  Maiysville,  0.,  Sept.  30,  1898.    Mr. 
McCrory  was  educated  at  Oberlin  College,  and  has  an  excellent  memory. 

8  Howe's  Historical  Collections  of  Ohio,  Vol.  I,  p.  614. 

*  Letter  from  Job  MuUin,  dictated  to  his  son-in-law,  W.  H.  Newport,  at 
Springboro,  0.,  Sept.  9,  1895. 

*  Conversation  with  Mr.  Eliakim  H.  Moore,  Athens,  O. 


neighborhood  about  1824.  The  time  between  1840  and  the 
passage  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  he  regards  as  the  period  of 
greatest  activity  within  his  experience.  Joseph  Skillgess,  a 
colored  citizen  of  Urbana,  now  seventy-six  years  old,  says  that 
it  is  among  his  earliest  recollections  that  runaways  were  en- 
tertained at  Dry  Run  Church,  in  Ross  County .^  William  A. 
Johnston,  an  old  resident  of  Coshocton,  testifies :  "  We  had 
such  a  road  here  as  early  as  the  twenties,  I  know  from  tradi- 
tion and  personal  observation."  ^  Mahlon  Pickrell,  a  promi- 
nent Quaker  of  Logan  County,  writes :  "  There  was  some  travel 
on  the  Underground  Railroad  as  early  as  1820,  but  the  period  of 
greatest  activity  in  this  vicinity  was  between  1840  and  1850."^ 
Finally,  Mr.  R.  C.  Corwin,  of  Lebanon,  writes :  "  My  first  recol- 
lection of  the  business  dates  back  to  about  1820,  when  I  remem- 
ber seeing  fugitives  at  my  father's  house,  though  I  dare  say  it 
had  been  going  on  long  before  that  time.  From  that  time 
until  1840  there  was  a  gradual  increase  of  business.  From 
1840  to  1860  might  be  called  the  period  of  greatest  activity."* 
Among  these  aged  witnesses,  those  have  been  quoted  whose 
experience,  character  and  clearness  of  mind  gave  weight  to 
their  words.  Mr.  Rush  R.  Sloane,  of  Sandusky,  who  made 
some  local  investigations  in  northwestern  Ohio  and  published 
the  results  in  1888,  produces  some  evidence  that  agrees  with 
the  testimony  just  given.  He  found  that,  "  The  first  runaway 
slave  known  as  such  at  Sandusky  was  there  in  the  fall  of  the 
year  1820.  .  .  .  Judge  Jabez  Wright,  one  of  the  three  associate 
judges  who  held  the  first  term  of  court  in  Huron  County  in 
1815,  was  among  the  first  white  men  upon  the  Firelands  to 
aid  fugitive  slaves ;  he  never  failed  when  opportunity  offered 
to  lend  a  helping  hand  to  the  fugitives,  secreting  them  when 
necessary,  feeding  them  when  they  were  hungry,  clothing  and 
employing  them."  ^  After  reciting  a  number  of  instances  of 
rescues  occurring  between  1820  and  1850,  Mr.  Sloane  remarks 

1  Conversation  with  Joseph  Skillgess,  Urbana,  O.,  Aug.  14,  1894. 

2  Letter  of  Wm.  A.  Johnston,  Coshocton,  0.,  Aug.  23,  1894. 

'  Letter  of  Hannah  W.  Blackburn,  for  her  father,  Mahlon  Pickrell,  Zanes- 
fleld,  0.,  March  25,  1893. 

«  Letter  of  R.  C.  Corwin,  Lebanon,  0.,  Sept.  11,  1895. 
5  The  Firelands  Pioneer,  July,  1888,  p.  34. 


that  one  of  the  immediate  results  of  the  passage  of  the  second 
Fugitive  Slave  Law  was  the  increased  travel  of  fugitives 
through  the  State  of  Ohio.^  The  foregoing  items  have  heen 
brought  together  to  show  that  there  was  no  break  in  the  busi- 
ness of  the  Road  from  the  beginning  to  the  end.  The  death  or 
the  change  of  residence  of  abolitionists  may  have  interrupted 
travel  on  one  or  another  route,  and  may  even  have  broken  a 
line  permanently,  but  the  history  of  the  Underground  Railroad 
system  in  Ohio  is  continuous. 

In  North  Carolina  underground  methods  are  known  to 
have  been  employed  by  white  persons  of  respectability  as 
early  as  1819.  We  are  informed  that  "  Vestal  Coffin  organ- 
ized the  Underground  Railroad  near  the  present  Guilford 
College  in  1819.  Addison  Coffin,  his  son,  entered  its  service 
as  a  conductor  in  early  youth  and  still  survives  in  hale  old 
age.  .  .  .  Vestal's  cousin,  Levi  Coffin,  became  an  anti- 
slavery  apostle  in  early  youth  and  continued  unflinching  to 
the  end.  His  early  years  were  spent  in  North  Carolina, 
whence  he  helped  many  slaves  to  reach  the  West."  ^  Levi 
Coffin  removed  to  Indiana  in  1826.  Of  his  own  and  his 
cousin's  activities  in  behalf  of  slaves  while  still  a  resident  of 
North  Carolina,  Mr.  Coffin  writes:  "Runaway  slaves  used 
frequently  to  conceal  themselves  in  the  woods  and  thickets 
of  New  Garden,  waiting  opportunities  to  make  their  escape 
to  the  North,  and  I  generally  learned  their  places  of  conceal- 
ment and  rendered  them  all  the  service  in  my  power.  .  .  . 
These  outlying  slaves  knew  where  I  lived,  and,  when  re- 
duced to  extremity  of  want  or  danger,  often  came  to  my 
room,  in  the  silence  and  darkness  of  the  night,  to  obtain 
food  or  assistance.  In  my  efforts  to  aid  these  fugitives  I 
had  a  zealous  coworker  in  my  friend  and  cousin  Vestal 
Coffin,  who  was  then,  and  continued  to  the  time  of  his  death 
—  a  few  years  later  —  a  staunch  friend  to  the  slave."  ^  When 
Levi  Coffin  emigrated  in  1826  to  southeastern  Indiana,  he 
did  not  give  up  his  active  interest  in  the  fleeing  slave,  and 
his  house  at  Newport  (now  Fountain  City)  became  a  centre 

1  The  Firelands  Pioneer,  July,  1888,  p.  34  et  seq. 

2  Stephen  B.  Weeks,  Southern  Quakers  and  Slavery,  p.  242. 
^  Beminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin,  2(i  ed.,  pp.  20,  21. 


at  which  three  distinct  lines  of  Underground  Road  con- 
verged. It  is  probable,  however,  that  wayfarers  from  bond- 
age found  aid  from  pioneer  settlers  in  Indiana  before  Friend 
Cof&n's  arrival.  John  F.  Williams,  of  Economy,  Indiana, 
says  that  fugitives  "  commenced  coming  in  1820,"  and  he 
denominated  himself  "  an  agent  since  1820,"  although  he 
"never  kept  a  depot  till  1852." ^  It  is  scarcely  necessary 
to  make  a  showing  of  testimony  to  prove  that  an  expansion 
of  routes  like  that  taking  place  in  Ohio  and  states  farther 
east  occurred  also  in  Indiana.  / 

It  is  doubtful  at  what  time  stations  first  came  to  exist  in 
Illinois.  Mr.  H.  B.  Leeper,  an  old  resident  of  that  state, 
assigns  their  origin  to  the  years  1819  and  1820,  at  which 
time  a  small  colony  of  anti-slavery  people  from  Brown 
County,  Ohio,  settled  in  Bond  County,  southern  Illinois. 
Emigrations  from  this  locality  to  Putnam  County,  about 
1830,  led,  he  thinks,  to  the  establishment  there  of  a  new 
centre  for  this  work.  These  settlers  were  persons  that  had 
left  South  Carolina  on  account  of  slavery,  and  during  their 
residence  in  Brown  County,  Ohio,  had  accepted  the  aboli- 
tionist views  of  the  Rev.  James  Gilliland,  a  Presbyterian 
preacher  of  Red  Oak;  and  in  Illinois  they  did  not  shrink 
from  putting  their  principles  into  practice.  This  account  is 
plausible,  and  as  it  is  substantiated  in  certain  parts  by  facts 
from  the  history  of  Brown  County,  Ohio,  it  may  be  con- 
sidered probable  in  those  parts  that  are  and  must  remain 
without  corroboration.  '  Concerning  his  father  Mr.  Leeper 
writes:  "John  Leeper  moved  from  Marshall  County,  Ten- 
nessee, to  Bond  County,  Illinois,  in  1816.  Was  a  hater  of 
slavery.  .  .  .  Remained  in  Bond  County  until  1823,  then 
moved  to  Jacksonville,  Morgan  County,  and  in  1831  to  Put- 
nam County,  and  in  1833  to  Bureau  County,  Illinois.  .  .  . 
My  father's  house  was  always  a  hiding-place  for  the  fugitive 

1  Letter  from  John  F.  Williams,  Economy,  Ind.,  March  21, 1893.  When 
this  letter  was  written,  Mr.  Williams  was  eighty -one  years  old.  He  was,  he 
says,  bom  in  1812.  In  1820  he  would  have  been  eight  years  old.  Children 
were  sometimes  sent  to  carry  food  to  refugees  in  hiding,  or  to  do  other  little 
services  with  which  they  could  he  safely  trusted.  Such  experiences  were 
apt  to  make  deep  impressions  on  their  young  memories. 


from  slavery."  ^  On  the  basis  of  this  testimony,  and  the 
probability  in  the  case,  we  may  believe  that  the  underground 
movement  in  Illinois  dates  back,  at  least,  to  the  time  of  the 
admission  of  Illinois  into  the  Union,  that  is,  to  1818.  Soon 
after  1835,  the  movement  seems  to  have  become  well  estab- 
lished, and  to  have  increased  in  importance  with  considerable 
rapidity  till  the  War. 

It  is  a  fact  worthy  of  note  that  the  years  that  witnessed 
the  beginnings  in  Ohio,  Indiana,  North  Carolina  and  Illinois 
of  this  curious  method  of  assailing  the  slave  power,  precede 
but  slightly  those  that  witnessed  the  formulation  of  three 
several  bills  in  Congress  designed  to  strengthen  the  first 
Fugitive  Slave  Law.  The  three  measures  were  drafted  dur- 
ing the  interval  from  1818  to  1822. 

The  abolitionist  enterprises  of  the  more  western  states, 
Iowa  and  Kansas,  came  too  late  to  be  in  any  way  connected 
with  the  proposal  of  these  bills.  The  settlement  of  these 
territories  was,  of  course,  considerably  behind  that  of  Ohio, 
Indiana  and  Illinois,  but  the  nearness  of  the  new  regions  to 
a  slaveholding  section  insured  the  opportunity  for  Under- 
ground Railroad  work  as  soon  as  settlement  should  begin. 
Professor  L.  F.  Parker,  of  Tabor  College,  Iowa,  has  sketched 
briefly  the  successive  steps  in  the  opening  of  his  state  to 
occupancy.  "The  Black-Hawk  Purchase  opened  the  eastern 
edge  of  Iowa  to  the  depth  of  40  or  60  miles  to  the  whites 
in  1833.  The  strip  .  .  .  west  of  that  which  included  what 
is  now  Grinnell  was  not  opened  to  white  occupancy  till  1843, 
and  it  was  ten  years  later  before  the  white  residents  in  this 
county  numbered  500.  Grinnell  was  settled  in  1854,  when 
central  and  western  Iowa  was  merely  dotted  by  a  few  hamlets 
of  white  men,  and  seamed  by  winding  paths  along  prairie 
ridges  and  through  bridgeless  streams."  ^  One  of  the  early 
settlers  in  southeastern  Iowa  was  J.  H.  B.  Armstrong,  who 
had  been  familiar  with  the  midnight   appeals   of  escaping 

1  Letter  from  H.  B.  Leeper,  Princeton,  111.,  received  Dec.  19,  1895.  Mr. 
Leeper  is  seventy-five  years  of  age.  His  letter  shows  a  knowledge  of  the 
localities  of  which  he  writes,  Bond  County  in  southwestern  Illinois,  and 
Bureau  and  Putnam  Counties  in  the  central  part  of  the  state. 

2  Letter  from  Professor  L.  E.  Parker,  Grinnell,  Iowa,  Aug.  30,  1894. 


slaves  in  Fayette  County,  Ohio.  Mr.  Armstrong  removed 
to  the  West  in  1839,  and  settled  in  Lee  County,  Iowa.  His 
proximity  to  the  northeastern  boundary  of  Missouri  seems  to 
have  involved  him  in  Underground  Railroad  work  from  the 
start,  on  the  route  running  to  Salem  and  Denmark.  When 
in  1852  Mr.  Armstrong  moved  to  Appanoose  County,  and 
located  within  four  miles  of  the  Missouri  line,  among  a 
number  of  abolitionists,  he  found  himself  even  more  con- 
cerned with  secret  projects  to  help  slaves  to  Canada.  The 
lines  of  travel  of  fugitive  slaves  that  extended  east  through- 
out the  entire  length  of  Iowa  were  more  or  less  associated 
with  Kansas  men  and  Kansas  movements,  and  their  develop- 
ment is,  therefore,  to  be  assigned  to  the  time  of  the  outbreak 
of  the  struggle  over  Kansas  (1854).  Residents  of  Tabor  in 
southwestern  Iowa,  and  of  Grinnell  in  central  Iowa,  agree 
in  designating  1854  as  the  year  in  which  their  Underground 
Railroad  labors  began.  The  Rev.  John  Todd,  one  of  the 
founders  of  the  college  colony  of  Tabor,  is  authority  for  the 
statement  that  the  first  fugitives  arrived  in  the  summer  of 
1854.1  Professor  Parker  states  that  Grinnell  was  a  stopping- 
place  for  the  hunted  slave  from  the  time  of  its  founding  in 

We  may  summarize  our  findings  in  regard  to  the  expansion 
of  the  Underground  Railroad,  then,  by  saying  that  it  had 
grown  into  a  wide-spread  "  institution  "  before  the  year  1840, 
and  in  several  states  it  had  existed  in  previous  decades.  This 
statement  coincides  with  the  findings  of  Dr.  Samuel  G.  Howe 
in  Canada,  while  on  a  tour  of  investigation  in  1863.  He  re- 
ports that  the  arrivals  of  runaway  slaves  in  the  provinces, 
at  first  rare,  increased  early  in  the  century ;  that  some  of  the 
fugitives,  rejoicing  in  the  personal  freedom  they  had  gained 
and  banishing  all  fear  of  the  perils  they  must  endure,  went 
stealthily  back  to  their  former  homes  and  brought  away  their 
wives  and  children.  The  Underground  Road  was  of  great 
assistance  to  these  and  other  escaping  slaves,  and  "  hundreds," 

1  Letter  from  Professor  James  E.  Todd,  Vermillion,  South  Dakota, 
Nov.  6,  1894.    Professor  Todd  is  the  son  of  the  Rev.  John  Todd. 

The  Tahor  Beacon,  1890, 1891,  contains  a  series  of  reminiscences  from  the 
pen  of  the  Rev.  John  Todd.  The  first  of  these  recounts  the  first  arrival  of 
fugitives  in  July,  1854.  , 


says  Dr.  Howe,  "  trod  this  path  every  year,  but  they  did  not 
attract  much  public  attention."^  It  does  not  escape  Dr. 
Howe's  consideration,  however,  that  the  fugitive  slaves  in 
Canada  were  soon  brought  to  public  notice  by  the  diplomatic 
negotiations  between  England  and  the  United  States  during 
the  years  1826-1828,  the  object  being,  as  Mr.  Clay,  the  Secre- 
tary of  State,  himself  declared,  "to  provide  for  a  growing 
evil."  The  evidence  gathered  from  surviving  abolitionists 
in  the  states  adjacent  to  the  lakes  shows  an  increased  activity 
of  the  Underground  Road  during  the  period  1830-1840.  The 
reason  for  flight  given  by  the  slave  was,  in  the  great  majority 
of  cases,  the  same,  namely,  fear  of  being  sold  to  the  far  South. 
It  is  certainly  significant  in  this  connection  that  the  decade 
above  mentioned  witnessed  the  removal  of  the  Indians  from 
the  Gulf  states,  and,  in  the  words  of  another  contemporary 
observer  and  reporter,  "  the  consequent  opening  of  new  and 
— vast  cotton  fields."^  The  swelling  emphasis  laid  upon  the 
value  of  their  escaped  slaves  by  the  Southern  representatives 
in  Congress,  and  by  the  South  generally,  resounded  with 
terrific  force  at  length  in  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850. 
That  act  did  not,  as  it  appears,  check  or  diminish  in  any  way 
the  number  of  underground  rescues.  In  spite  of  the  exhibit 
on  fugitive  slaves  made  in  the  United  States  census  report 
of  1860,  which  purports  to  show  that  the  number  of  escapes 
was  about  a  thousand  a  year,  it  is  difficult  to  doubt  the  con- 
sensus of  testimony  of  many  underground  agents,  to  the  effect 
that  the  decade  from  1850  to  1860  was  the  period  of  the 
Road's  greatest  activity  in  all  sections  of  the  North.^ 

It  is  not  known  when  the  name  "  Underground  Railroad  " 
came  to  be  applied  to  these  secret  trails,  nor  where  it  was 
first  applied  to  them.  According  to  Mr.  Smedley  the  designa- 
tion came  into  use  among  slave-hunters  in  the  neighborhood 
of  Columbia  soon  after  the  Quakers  in  southeastern  Penn- 

1  S.  G.  Howe,  The  Refugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  1864,  pages 
11,  12. 

2  G.  M.  Weston,  Progress  of  Slavery  in  the  United  States,  Washington, 
D.C.,  1858,  p.  22. 

3  Some  conclusions  presented  in  the  American  Historical  Review,  April, 
1896,  pp.  460-462,  are  here  repeated. 


sylvania  began  their  concerted  action  in  harboring  and  for- 
warding fugitives.  The  pursuers  seem  to  have  had  little 
difficulty  in  tracking  slaves  as  far  as  Columbia,  but  beyond 
that  point  all  trace  of  them  was  generally  lost.  All  the 
various  methods  of  detection  customary  in  such  cases  were 
resorted  to,  but  failed  to  bring  the  runaways  to  view.  The 
mystery  enshrouding  these  disappearances  completely  bewil- 
dered and  baffled  the  slave-owners  and  their  agents,  who  are 
said  to  have  declared,  "  there  must  be  an  Underground  Rail-  U-- 
road  somewhere."  ^  As  this  work  reached  considerable  de- 
velopment in  the  district  indicated  during  the  first  decade 
of  this  century  the  account  quoted  is  seen  to  contain  an 
anachronism.  Railroads  were  not  known  either  in  England 
or  the  United  States  until  about  1830,  so  that  the  word 
"  railroad "  could  scarcely  have  received  its  figurative  appli- 
cation as  early  as  Mr.  Smedley  implies. 

The  Hon.  Rush  R.  Sloane,  of  Sandusky,  Ohio,  gives  the 
following  account  of  the  naming  of  the  Road:  "In  the 
year  1831,  a  fugitive  named  Tice  Davids  came  over  the  line 
and  lived  just  back  of  Sandusky.  He  had  come  direct  from 
Ripley,  Ohio,  where  he  crossed  the  Ohio  River.  .  .  . 

"  When  he  was  running  away,  his  master,  a  Kentuckian,  was 
in  close  pursuit  and  pressing  him  so  hard  that  when  the  Ohio 
River  was  reached  he  had  no  alternative  but  to  jump  in  and 
swim  across.  It  took  his  master  some  time  to  secure  a  skiff, 
in  which  he  and  his  aid  followed  the  swimming  fugitive, 
keeping  him  in  sight  until  he  had  landed.  Once  on  shore, 
however,  the  master  could  not  find  him.  No  one  had  seen 
him ;  and  after  a  long  .  .  .  search  the  disappointed  slave-master 
went  into  Ripley,  and  when  inquired  of  as  to  what  had  be- 
come of  his  slave,  said  ...  he  thought '  the  nigger  must  have 
gone  off  on  an  underground  road.'  The  story  was  repeated 
with  a  good  deal  of  amusement,  and  this  incident  gave  the 
name  to  the  line.  First  the  '  Underground  Road,'  after-  ' 
wards  '  Underground  Railroad.' "  ^  A  colored  man,  the  Rev. 
W.  M.  Mitchell,  who  was  for  several  years   a  resident  of 

1  R.  C.  Smedley,  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  34,  35. 
»  The  Firelands  Pioneer,  July,  1888,  p.  35. 


southern  Ohio,  and  a  friend  of  fugitives,  gives  what  appears 
to  be  a  version  of  Mr.  Sloane's  story.i  These  anecdotes  are 
hardly  more  than  traditions,  affording  a  fair  general  explana- 
tion of  the  way  in  which  the  Underground  Railroad  got  its 
name;  but  they  cannot  be  trusted  in  the  details  of  time, 
place  and  occasion.  Whatever  the  manner  and  date  of  its 
suggestion,  the  designation  was  generally  accepted  as  an  apt 
title  for  a  mysterious  means  of  transporting  fugitive  slaves 
to  Canada. 

1  The  Underground  Sailroad,  pp.  4,  5. 


(From  a  recent  photograph.) 


Situated  on  the  top  o£  a  high  hill,  this  initial  station  was  readily  found  by  runaways 
from  the  Kentucky  shore  opposite. 

(From  a  recent  photograph.) 



By  the  enactment  of  the  first  Fugitive  Slave  Law,  February 
12,  1793,  the  aiding  of  fugitive  slaves  became  a  penal  offence. 
This  measure  laid  a  fine  of  five  hundred  dollars  upon  any  one 
harboring  escaped  slaves,  or  preventing  their  arrest.  The  pro- 
visions of  the  law  were  of  a  character  to  stimulate  resistance  to 
its  enforcement.  The  master  or  his  agent  was  authorized  to 
arrest  the  runaway,  wherever  found ;  to  bring  him  before  a 
judge  of  the  circuit  or  the  district  court  of  the  United  States, 
or  before  a  local  magistrate  where  the  capture  was  made; 
and  to  receive,  on  the  display  of  satisfactory  proof,  a  certifi- 
cate operating  as  a  full  warrant  for  taking  the  prisoner  back 
to  the  state  from  which  he  had  fled.  This  summary  method 
of  disposing  of  cases  involving  the  high  question  of  human 
liberty  was  regarded  by  many  persons  as  unjust ;  they  freely 
denounced  it,  and,  despite  the  penalty  attached,  many  violated 
the  law.  Secrecy  was  the  only  safeguard  of  these  persons, 
as  it  was  of  those  they  were  attempting  to  succor;  hence 
arose  the  numerous  artifices  employed. 

The  uniform  success  of  the  attempts  to  evade  this  first 
Fugitive  Slave  Law,  and  doubtless,  also,  the  general  indisposi- 
tion of  Northern  people  to  take  part  in  the  return  of  refugees 
to  their  Southern  owners,  led,  as  early  as  in  1823,  to  negotia- 
tions between  Kentucky  and  the  three  adjoining  states  across 
the  Ohio.  It  is  unnecessary  to  trace  the  history  of  these 
negotiations,  or  to  point  out  the  statutes  in  which  the  legis- 
lative results  are  recorded.  It  is  notable  that  sixteen  years 
elapsed  before  the  legislature  of  Ohio  passed  a  law  to  secure 
the  recovery  of  slave  property,  and  that  the  new  enactment 
remained  on  the  statute  books  only  four  years.  The  pen- 
alties imposed  by  this  law  for  advising  or  for  enticing  a  slave 



to  leave  his  master,  or  for  harboring  a  fugitive,  were  a  fine, 
not  to  exceed  five  hundred  dollars,  and,  at  the  discretion  of 
the  court,  imprisonment  not  to  exceed  sixty  days.  In  addi- 
tion, the  offender  was  to  be  liable  in  an  action  at  the  suit  of 
the  party  injured.^  It  can  scarcely  be  supposed  that  a  state 
Fugitive  Slave  Law  like  this  would  otherwise  affect  persons 
that  were  already  engaged  in  aiding  runaways  than  to  make 
them  more  certain  than  ever  that  their  cause  was  just. 

The  loss  of  slave  property  sustained  by  Southern  planters 
was  not  diminished,  and  the  outcry  of  the  South  for  a  more 
rigorous  national  law  on  the  subject  was  by  no  means  hushed. 
In  1850  Congress  met  the  case  by  substituting  for  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Act  of  1793  the  measure  called  the  second  Fugitive  Slave 
Law.  The  penalties  provided  by  this  law  were,  of  course, 
more  severe  than  those  of  the  act  of  1793.  Any  person  hin- 
dering the  claimant  from  arresting  the  fugitive,  or  attempting 
the  rescue  or  concealment  of  the  fugitive,  became  "  subject  to 
a  fine  not  exceeding  one  thousand  dollars,  or  imprisonment 
not  exceeding  six  months,"  and  was  liable  for  "  civil  damages 
to  the  party  injured  by  such  illegal  conduct  in  the  sum  of  one 
thousand  dollars  for  each  fugitive  so  lost."  These  provisions 
of  the  new  law  only  added  fresh  fuel  to  the  fire.  The  deter- 
mination to  prevent  the  recovery  of  escaped  slaves  by  their 
owners  spread  rapidly  among  the  inhabitants  of  the  free  states. 
Many  of  these  persons,  who  had  hitherto  refrained  from  acting 
for  or  against  the  fugitive,  were  provoked  into  helping  defeat 
the  action  of  a  law  commanding  them  "  to  aid  and  assist  in 
the  prompt  and  efficient  execution  "  of  a  measure  that  would 
have  set  them  at  the  miserable  business  of  slave-catching. 
Clay  only  expressed  a  wish  instead  of  a  fact,  when  he  main- 
tained in  1851  that  the  law  was  being  executed  in  Indiana, 
Ohio  and  other  states.  Another  Southern  senator  was  much 
nearer  the  truth  when  he  complained  of  the  small  number  of 
recaptures  under  the  recent  act. 

The  risk  of  suffering  severe  penalties  by  violating  the  Fugi- 
tive Slave  laws  was  less  wearing,  probably,  on  abolitionists 
than  was  the  social  disdain  they  brought  upon  themselves  by 
acknowledging  their  principles.  During  a  generation  or  more 
1  The  date  of  the  act  is  February  26,  1839. 


they  were  in  a  minority  in  many  communities,  and  were  forced 
to  submit  to  the  taunts  and  insults  of  persons  that  did  not 
distinguish  between  abolition  of  slavery  and  fusion  of  the 
white  and  the  black  races.  "  Black  abolitionist,"  "  niggerite," 
"  amalgamationist "  and  "  nigger  thief  "  were  convenient  epi- 
thets in  the  mouths  of  pro-slavery  champions  in  many  North- 
ern neighborhoods.  The  statement  was  not  uncommonly 
made  about  those  suspected  of  harboring  slaves,  that  they 
did  so  from  motives  of  thrift  and  gain.  It  was  said  that  some 
underground  helpers  made  use  of  the  labor  of  runaways,  espe- 
cially in  harvest-time,  as  long  as  it  suited  their  convenience, 
then  on  the  pretext  of  danger  hurried  the  negroes  off  without 
pay.  Unreasoning  malice  alone  could  concoct  so  absurd  an 
explanation  of  a  philanthropy  involving  so  much  cost  and 
risk.i  Abolitionists  were  often  made  uncomfortable  in  their 
church  relations  by  the  uncomplimentary  attentions  they  re- 
ceived, or  by  the  discovery  that  they  were  regarded  as  unwel- 
come disturbers  of  the  household  of  faith.^  Even  the  Society 
of  Friends  is  not  above  the  charge  of  having  lost  sight,  in 
some  quarters,  of  the  precepts  of  Anthony  Benezet  and  John 
Woolman.  Uxbridge  monthly  meeting  is  known  to  have  dis- 
owned Abby  Kelly  because  she  gave  anti-slavery  lectures.^ 
The  church  certificate  given  to  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Buffum  Chace 
when  she  transferred  her  membership  from  Swanzey  monthly 
meeting  to  Providence  (Rhode  Island)  monthly  meeting  was 
without  the  acknowledgment  usually  contained  in  such  certi- 
ficates that  the  bearer  "  was  of  orderly  life  and  conversation."  * 
A  popular  Hicksite  minister  of  New  York  City,  in  commend- 
ing the  fugitive  Thomas  Hughes  for  consenting  to  return  South 
vnth  his  master,  said,  "  I  had  a  thousand  times  rather  be  a 
slave,  and  spend  my  days  with  slaveholders,  than  to  dwell  in 
companionship  with  abolitionists."  ^   In  the  Methodist  Church 

iSee  an  article  entitled  "An  Underground  Railway,"  by  Eobert  W. 
Carroll,  of  Cincinnati,  O.,  in  the  Cincinnati  Times-Star,  Aug.  19,  1890;  also 
Smedley,  Underground  Railroad,  p.  182 ;  and  J.  B.  Robinson,  Pictures  of 
Slavery  and  Anti-Slavery,  pp.  293,  294. 

2  Histoi-y  of  Henry  County,  Indiana,  p.  126  et  seq. 

'  Elizabeth  BufEum  Chace,  Anti-Slavery  Beminiscences,  p.  19. 

*76i(!.,p.  18. 

5  Lydia  Maria  Child,  Life  of  Isaac  T.  Hopper,  pp.  388,  389. 


there  came  to  be  such  stress  of  feeling  between  the  abolition- 
ists and  the  other  members,  that  in  many  places  the  former 
withdrew  and  organized  little  congregations  apart,  under  the 
denominational  name,  Wesleyan  Methodist.  The  truth  is, 
the  mass  of  the  people  of  the  free  states  were  by  no  means 
abolitionists ;  they  cherished  an  intense  prejudice  against  the 
negro,  and  permitted  it  to  extend  to  all  anti-slavery  advocates. 
They  were  willing  to  let  slavery  alone,  and  desired  that  others 
should  let  it  alone.  In  the  Western  states  the  character  of 
public  sentiment  is  evidenced  by  the  fact  that  generally  the 
political  party  considered  to  be  most  favorable  to  slavery 
could  command  a  majority,  and  "black  laws"  were  framed  at 
the  behest  of  Southern  politicians  for  the  purpose  of  making 
residence  in  the  Northern  states  a  disagreeable  thing  for  the 

Abolitionists  were  frequently  subjected  to  espionage ;  the 
arrival  of  a  party  of  colored  people  at  a  house  after  daybreak 
would  arouse  suspicion  and  cause  the  place  to  be  closely 
watched ;  a  chance  meeting  with  a  neighbor  in  the  highway 
would  perhaps  be  the  means  by  which  some  abolitionists' 
secrets  would  become  known.  In  such  cases  it  did  not  always 
follow  that  the  discovery  brought  ruin  upon  the  head  of  the 
offender,  even  when  the  discoverer  was  a  person  of  pro-slavery 
views.  Nevertheless,  accidents  of  the  kind  described  served 
to  fasten  the  suspicions  of  a  locality  upon  the  offender.  Grav- 
ner  and  Hannah  Marsh,  Quakers,  living  near  Downington,  in 
Chester  County,  Pennsylvania,  became  known  to  their  pro- 
slavery  neighbors  as  agents  on  the  Underground  Road.  These 
neighbors  were  not  disposed  to  inform  against  them,  although 
one  woman,  intent  on  finding  out  how  many  slaves  they  aided 
in  a  year,  with  much  watching  counted  sixty .^  The  Rev. 
John  Cross,  a  Presbyterian  minister  living  in  Elba  Township, 
Knox  County,  Illinois,  about  the  year  1840,  had  neighbors 
that  insisted  on  his  answering  to  the  law  for  the  help  he  gave 
to  some  fugitives.  Mr.  Cross  made  no  secret  of  his  princi- 
ples and  accordingly  became  game  for  his  enemies.  One  of 
these  was  Jacob  Kightlinger,  who  observed  a  wagon-load  of 

1  See  President  Fairohild's  pamphlet,  The  Underground  Sailroad. 

2  Smedley,  Underground  Sailroad,  p.  139. 


negroes  being  taken  in  the  direction  of  Mr.  Cross's  house.  In- 
vestigation by  Mr.  Kightlinger  and  several  of  his  friends  proved 
tlieir  suspicions  to  be  true,  and  by  their  action  Mr.  Cross  was 
indicted  for  harboring  fugitive  slaves.^ 

Parties  in  pursuit  of  fugitives  were  compelled  to  make  care- 
ful and  often  long-continued  search  to  find  traces  of  their  way- 
faring chattels.  During  such  missions  they  were,  of  course, 
inquisitive  and  vigilant,  and  when  circumstances  seemed  to 
warrant  it,  they  set  men  to  watch  the  premises  of  the  persons 
most  suspicioned,  and  to  report  any  mysterious  actions  occur- 
ring within  the  district  patrolled.  The  houses  of  many  noted 
abolitionists  along  the  Ohio  River  were  frequently  under  the 
surveillance  of  slave-hunters.  It  was  not  a  rare  thing  that 
towns  and  villages  in  regions  adjacent  to  the  Southern  states 
were  terrorized  by  crowds  of  roughs  eager  to  find  the  hiding- 
places  of  slaves,  recently  missed  by  masters  bent  on  their  re- 
covery. The  following  extracts  from  a  letter  written  by  Mr. 
William  Steel  to  Mr.  David  Putnam,  Jr.,  of  Point  Harmar, 
Ohio,  will  show  the  methods  practised  by  slave-hunters  when 
in  eager  pursuit  of  fugitives :  — 

WooDSFiELD,  Monroe  Co.,  O. 
Sept.  5,  1843. 
Me.  David  Putnam,  Je.  : 

Dear  Sir, —  I  received  yours  of  the  26th  tilt,  and  was  very  glad 
to  hear  from  it  that  Stephen  Quixot  had  such  good  luck  in  getting 
his  family  from  Virginia,  but  we  began  to  be  very  uneasy  about 
them  as  we  did  not  hear  from  them  again  until  last  Saturday,  .  .  . 
we  then  heard  they  were  on  the  route  leading  through  Summer- 
field,  but  that  the  route  from  there  to  Somerton  was  so  closely 
watched  both  day  and  night  for  some  time  past  on  account  of  the  . 
human  cattle  that  have  lately  escaped  from  Virginia,  that  they 
could  not  proceed  farther  on  that  route.  So  we  made  an  arrange- 
ment with  the  Summerfield  friends  to  meet  them  on  Sunday  even- 
ing about  ten  miles  west  of  this  and  bring  them  on  to  this 
route  .  .  .  the  abolitionists  of  the  west  part  of  this  county  have 
had  very  difiicult  work  in  getting  them  all  off  without  being  caught, 
as  the  whole  of  that  part  of  the  country  has  been  filled  with 
Southern  blood  hounds  upon  their  track,  and  some  of  the  aboli- 

1  History  of  Knox  County,  HI.,  pp.  213,  214.  Mr.  Kightlinger's  account 
of  this  affair  is  published  under  his  own  name. 


tionists'  houses  have  been  watched  day  and  night  for  several  days 
in  succession.  This  evening  a  company  of  eight  Virginia  hounds 
passed  through  this  place  north  on  the  hunt  of  some  of  their  two- 
legged  chattels.  .  .  .  Since  writing  the  above  I  have  understood 
that  something  near  twenty  Virginians  including  the  eight  above 
mentioned  have  just  passed  through  town  on  their  way  to  the 
Somerton  neighborhood,  but  I  do  not  think  they  will  get  much  in- 
formation about  their  lost  chattels  there.  .  .  . 

Yours  for  the  Slave, 

William  Steel.^ 

A  case  that  well  illustrates  the  method  of  search  employed 
by  pursuing  parties  is  that  of  the  escape  of  the  Nuckolls  slaves 
through  Iowa,  the  incidents  of  which  are  still  vivid  in  the 
memories  of  some  that  witnessed  them.  Mr.  Nuckolls,  of 
Nebraska  City,  Nebraska,  lost  two  slave-girls  in  December, 
1858.  He  instituted  search  for  them  in  Tabor,  an  abolition- 
ist centre,  and  did  not  neglect  to  guard  the  crossings  of  two 
streams  in  the  vicinity.  Silver  Creek  and  the  Nishnabotna 
River.  As  the  slaves  had  been  promptly  despatched  to  Chi- 
cago, this  search  availed  him  nothing.  A  second  and  more 
thorough  hunt  was  decided  on,  and  the  aid  of  a  score  or 
more  fellows  was  secured.  These  men  made  entrance  into 
houses  by  force  and  violence,  when  bravado  failed  to  gain 
them  admission.^  At  one  house  where  the  remonstrance 
against  intrusion  was  unusually  strong  the  person  remonstrat- 
ing was  struck  over  the  head  and  injured  for  life.  The  out- 
come of  the  whole  affair  was  that  Mr.  Nuckolls  had  some  ten 
thousand  dollars  to  pay  in  damages  and  costs,  and,  after  all, 
failed  to  recover  his  slaves.* 

Many  were  the  inducements  to  practise  espionage  on  aboli- 
tionists. Large  sums  were  offered  for  the  capture  of  fugi- 
tives, and  rewards  were  offered  also  for  the  arrest  and  delivery 

1  The  original  letter  is  in  the  possession  of  the  author  of  this  hook. 

2  The  Tahor  Beacon,  1890,  1891,  Chapter  XXI  of  a  series  of  articles  hy 
the  Rev.  John  Todd,  on  "The  Early  Settlement  and  Growth  of  Western 
Iowa."  Mr.  Todd  was  one  of  the  early  settlers  of  western  Iowa.  The 
letters  were  received  from  his  son,  Professor  James  E.  Todd,  of  the  Uni- 
versity of  South  Dakota,  Vermillion,  S.  Dak. 

»  Letter  of  Mr.  Sturgis  Williams,  Percival,  la. ,  1894.  Mr.  Williams  was 
also  one  of  the  pioneers  of  western  Iowa. 


south  of  Mason  and  Dixon's  line  of  certain  abolitionists, 
who  were  well-enough  known  to  have  the  hatred  of  many- 
Southerners.  "  At  an  anti-slavery  meeting  of  the  citizens  of 
Sardinia  and  vicinity,  held  on  November  21, 1838,  a  committee 
of  respectable  citizens  presented  a  report,  accompanied  with 
affidavits  in  support  of  its  declarations,  stating  that  for  more 
than  a  year  past  there  had  been  an  unusual  degree  of  hatred 
manifested  by  the  slave-hunters  and  slaveholders  towards  the 
abolitionists  of  Brown  County,  and  that  rewards  varying  from 
1500  to  $2,500  had  been  repeatedly  offered  by  different  per- 
sons for  the  abduction  or  assassination  of  the  Rev.  John  B. 
Mahan ;  and  rewards  had  also  been  offered  for  Amos  Petti- 
john,  William  A.  Frazier  and  Dr.  Isaac  M.  Beck,  of  Sardinia, 
the  Rev.  John  Rankin  and  Dr.  Alexander  Campbell,  of  Rip- 
ley, William  McCoy,  of  RussellviUe,  and  citizens  of  Adams 
County."  ^  A  resolution  was  offered  in  the  Maryland  Legis- 
lature, in  January,  1860,  proposing  a  reward  for  the  arrest  of 
Thomas  Garrett,  of  Wilmington,  for  "stealing"  slaves.^  It  is 
perhaps  an  evidence  of  the  extraordinary  caution  and  shrewd- 
ness employed  by  managers  of  the  Road  generally  that  so 
many  of  them  escaped  without  suffering  the  penalties  of  the 
law  or  the  inflictions  of  private  vengeance. 

Slave-owners  occasionally  tried  to  find  out  the  secrets  of  an 
underground  station  or  of  a  route  by  visiting  various  localities 
in  disguise.  A  Kentucky  slaveholder  clad  in  the  Friends' 
peculiar  garb  went  to  the  house  of  John  Charles,  a  Quaker 
of  Richmond,  Indiana,  and  meeting  a  son  of  Mr.  Charles, 
accosted  him  with  the  words,  "  Well,  sir,  my  little  mannie, 
hasn't  thee  father  gone  to  Canada  with  some  niggers?" 
Young  Charles  quickly  perceived  the  disguise,  and  pointing 
his  finger  at  the  man  declared  him  to  be  a  "  wolf  in  sheep's 
clothing."  3  About  the  year  1840  there  came  into  Cass  County, 
Indiana,  a  man  from  Kentucky  by  the  name  of  Carpenter, 
who  professed  to  be  an  anti-slavery  lecturer  and  an  agent  for 

^  Bistory  of  Brown  County,  Ohio,  p.  314. 

"  The  New  Beign  of  Ten-or  in  the  Slaveholding  States,  for  1859-1860 
{Anti-Slavery  Tracts,  No.  4,  New  Series),  pp.  49,  50. 

8  Letter  of  Mrs.  Mary  C.  Thome,  Selma,  Clark  Co.,  0.,  March  3,  1892. 
John  Charles  was  an  uncle  of  Mrs.  Thome. 


certain  anti-slavery  papers.  He  visited  the  abolitionists  and 
seemed  zealous  in  the  cause.  In  this  way  he  learned  the 
whereabouts  of  seven  fugitives  that  had  arrived  in  the  neigh- 
borhood from  Kentucky  a  few  weeks  before.  He  sent  word 
to  their  masters,  and  in  due  time  they  were  all  seized,  but  had 
not  been  taken  far  before  the  neighborhood  was  aroused, 
masters  and  victims  were  overtaken  and  carried  to  the  county- 
seat,  a  trial  was  procured,  and  the  slaves  were  again  set  free. 

Thus  the  penalties  of  the  law,  the  contempt  of  neighbors, 
and  the  espionage  of  persons  interested  in  returning  fugitives 
to  bondage  made  secrecy  necessary  in  the  service  of  the 
Underground  Railroad. 

Night  was  the  only  time,  of  course,  in  which  the  fugitive 
and  his  helpers  could  feel  themselves  even  partially  secure. 
Probably  most  slaves  that  started  for  Canada  had  learned  to 
know  the  north  star,  and  to  many  of  these  superstitious  per- 
sons its  light  seemed  the  enduring  witness  of  the  divine  inter- 
est in  their  deliverance.  When  clouds  obscured  the  stars 
they  had  recourse,  perhaps,  to  such  bits  of  homely  knowledge 
as,  that  in  forests  the  trunks  of  trees  are  commonly  moss- 
grown  on  their  north  sides.  In  Kentucky  and  western  Vir- 
ginia many  fugitives  were  guided  to  free  soil  by  the  tributaries 
of  the  Ohio ;  while  in  central  and  eastern  Virginia  the  ranges 
of  the  Appalachian  chain  marked  the  direction  to  be  taken. 
YAfter  reaching  the  initial  station  of  some  line  of  Underground 
Road  the  fugitive  found  himself  provided  with  such  accom- 
modations for  rest  and  refreshment  as  circumstances  would 
allow ;  and  after  an  interval  of  a  day  or  more  he  was  con- 
veyed, usually  in  the  night,  to  the  house  of  the  next  friend. 
Sometimes,  however,  when  a  guide  was  thought  to  be  un- 
necessary the  fugitive  was  sent  on  foot  to  the  next  station, 
full  and  minute  instructions  for  finding  it  having  been  given 
him.  The  faltering  step,  and  the  light,  uncertain  rapping  of 
the  fugitive  at  the  door,  was  quickly  recognized  by  the  family 
within,  and  the  stranger  was  admitted  with  a  welcome  at  once 
sincere  and  subdued.  There  was  a  suppressed  stir  in  the 
house  while  the  fire  was  building  and  food  preparing ;  and 
after  the  hunger  and  chill  of  the  wayfarer  had  been  dispelled, 
he  was  provided  with  a  bed  in  some  out-of-the-way  part  of  the 


house,  or  under  the  hay  in  the  barn  loft,  according  to  the 
degree  of  danger.  Often  a  household  was  awakened  to  find 
a  company  of  five  or  more  negroes  at  the  door.  The  arrival 
of  such  a  company  was  sometimes  announced  beforehand  by 
special  messenger. 

That  the  amount  of  time  taken  from  the  hours  of  sleep  by 
underground  service  was  no  small  item  may  be  seen  from  the 
following  record  covering  the  last  half  of  August,  1843.  The 
record  or  memorandum  is  that  of  Mr.  David  Putnam,  Jr.,  of 
Point  Harmar,  Ohio,  and  is  given  with  all  the  abbreviations : 

Aug.                    13/43  Sunday  Morn. 

2  o'clock  arrived 

Sunday  Eve. 


'       departed  for  B. 


Wednesday  Morn 

.  2 



Sunday  eve. 


'       departed  for  N. 

Wife  &  children  21 

Monday  morn. 


arrived  from  B. 

"        eve. 


'       left  for  Mr.  H. 


Tuesday  " 


'       left  for  W. 

A.  L.  &  S.  J.       28 

Monday  morn. 


'       arrived  left  2  o'clock.^ 

This  is  plainly  a  schedule  of  arriving  and  departing  "  trains  " 
on  the  Underground  Road.  It  is  noticeable  that  the  schedule 
contains  no  description,  numerical  or  otherwise,  of  the  parties 
coming  and  going ;  nor  does  it  indicate,  except  by  initial,  to 
what  places  or  persons  the  parties  were  despatched  ;  further, 
it  does  not  indicate  whether  Mr.  Putnam  accompanied  them 
or  not.  It  does,  however,  give  us  a  clue  to  the  amount 
of  night  service  that  was  done  at  a  station  of  average  activity 
on  the  Ohio  River  as  early  as  the  year  1843.  The  demands 
upon  operators  increased,  we  know,  from  this  time  on  till 
1860.  The  memorandum  also  shows  the  variation  in  the 
length  of  time  during  which  different  companies  of  fugitives 
were  detained  at  a  station;  thus,  the  first  fugitive,  or  com- 
pany of  fugitives,  as  the  case  may  have  been,  departed  on 
the  evening  of  the  day  of  arrival ;  the  second  party  was  kept 
in  concealment  from  Wednesday  morning  until  the  Sunday 
night  next  following  before  it  was  sent  on  its  way ;  the  third 

1  The  original  memorandum  is  written  in  pencil  on  a  letter  received  by 
Mr.  Putnam  from  Mr.  Jolm  Stone,  of  Belpre,  O.,  in  Aug.,  1843.  The  con- 
tents of  this  letter,  or  message,  is  given  on  page  57.  The  original  is  in  posses- 
sion of  the  author. 


party  seems  to  have  been  divided,  one  section  being  forwarded 
the  night  of  the  day  of  arrival,  the  other  the  next  night  fol- 
lowing ;  in  the  case  of  the  last  company  there  seems  to  have 
existed  some  especial  reason  for  haste,  and  we  find  it  hurried 
away  at  two  o'clock  in  the  morning,  after  only  an  hour's 
intermission  for  rest  and  refreshment.  The  memorandum  of 
night  service  at  the  Putnam  station  may  be  regarded  as  fairly 
representative  of  the  night  service  at  many  other  posts  or 
stations  throughout  Ohio  and  the  adjoining  states. 

Much  of  the  communication  relating  to  fugitive  slaves  was 
had  in  guarded  language.  Special  signals,  whispered  conver- 
sations, passwords,  messages  couched  in  figurative  phrases, 
were  the  common  modes  of  conveying  information  about 
underground  passengers,  or  about  parties  in  pursuit  of  fugi- 
tives. These  modes  of  communication  constituted  what  abo- 
litionists knew  as  the  "  grape-vine  telegraph."  ^  The  signals 
employed  were  of  various  kinds,  and  were  local  in  usage. 
Fugitives  crossing  the  Ohio  River  in  the  vicinity  of  Parkers- 
burg,  in  western  Virginia,  were  sometimes  announced  at  sta- 
tions near  the  river  by  their  guides  by  a  shrill  tremolo-call 
like  that  of  the  owl.  Colonel  John  Stone  and  Mr.  David 
Putnam,  Jr.,  of  Marietta,  Ohio,  made  frequent  use  of  this  sig- 
nal.2  Different  neighborhoods  had  their  peculiar  combina- 
tions of  knocks  or  raps  to  be  made  upon  the  door  or  window 
of  a  station  when  fugitives  were  awaiting  admission.  In 
Harrison  County,  Ohio,  around  Cadiz,  one  of  the  recognized 
signals  was  three  distinct  but  subdued  knocks.     To  the  in- 

1  The  Firelands  Pioneer,  July,  1888,  p.  20 ;  also  letter  of  S.  J.  Wright, 
Rushville,  0.,  Aug.  29,  1894,  and  letter  of  Ira  Thomas,  Springboro,  0.,  Oct. 
29,  1895. 

2  This  owl  signal  was  mentioned  in  conversation  with  several  residents  of 
Marietta.  Miss  Martha  Putnam  says  she  has  heard  her  father  make  the 
"hoot-owl"  call  huudreds  of  times.  General  R.  R.  Dawes  designates  this 
call  tlie  "river  signal."  "When  I  was  a  boy  of  eight,"  he  says,  "I  was 
visiting  my  grandfather,  Judge  Ephraim  Cutler.  The  place  was  called  Con- 
stitution. Somehow,  in  the  night  I  was  wakened  up,  and  a  wagon  came 
down  over  the  hill  to  the  river.  Then  a  call  was  given,  a  hoot-owl  call,  and 
this  was  answered  by  a  similar  one  from  the  other  side  ;  then  a  boat  went 
out  and  brought  over  the  crowd.  My  mother  got  out  of  bed  and  kneeled 
down  and  prayed  for  them,  and  had  me  kneel  with  her."  Conversation 
with  General  Dawes,  Marietta,  O.,  Aug.  21,  1892. 



quiry,  "Who's  there?"  the  reply- 
was,  "  A  friend  with  friends."  ^  Pass- 
words were  used  on  some  sections  of 
the  Road.  The  agents  at  York  in 
southeastern  Pennsylvania  made  use 
of  them,  and  William  Yokum,  a  con- 
stable of  the  town,  who  was  kindly 
disposed  towards  runaways,  was  able 
to  be  most  helpful  in  times  of  emer- 
gency by  his  knowledge  of  the  watch- 
words, one  of  which  was  "William 
Penn."  ^  Messages  couched  in  figura- 
tive language  were  often  sent.  The 
following  note,  written  by  Mr.  John 
Stone,  of  Belpre,  Ohio,  in  August, 
184S,  is  a  good  example :  — 

Belpke  Friday  Morning 
David  Putk^am 

Business  is  aranged  for  Saturday 
night  be  on  the  lookout  and  if  practi- 
cable let  a  cariage  come  &  meet  the  eara- 
wan  J  S' 



Mr.  I.  Newton  Peirce  forwarded  a 
number  of  fugitives  from  Alliance, 
Ohio,  to  Cleveland,  over  the  Cleve- 
land and  Western  Railroad.  He  sent 
with  each  company  a  note  to  a  Cleve- 
land merchant,  Mr.  Joseph  Garretson, 
saying :  "  Please  forward  immediately 
the  U.  G.  baggage  this  day  sent  to 
you.     Yours  truly,  I.  N.  P."*     Mr. 

1  Letter  of  the  Rev.  J.  B.  Lee,  Eranldinville, 
N.T.,  Oct.  21,  1895. 

2  Smedley,  Underground  Railroad,  p.  46. 
s  See  the  facsimile. 

*  Letter  of  I.  Newton  Peirce,  Folcroft, 
Sharon  Hill  P.O.,  Delaware  Co.,  Pa.,  Teh.  1, 


G.  W.  Weston,  of  Low  Moor,  Iowa,  was  the  author  of  similar 
communications  addressed  to  a  friend,  Mr.  C.  B.  Campbell, 
of  Clinton. 

Low  MooE,  May  6,  1859. 
Mb.  C.  B.  C, 

Dear  Sir :  —  By  to-morrow  evening's  mail,  you  will  receive  two 
volumes  of  the  "  Irrepressible  Conflict "  bound  in  black.  After 
perusal,  please  forward,  and  oblige, 

Yours  truly, 

G.  W.  W.^ 

The  Hon.  Thomas  Mitchell,  founder  of  Mitchellville,  near 
Des  Moines,  Iowa,  forwarded  fugitives  to  Mr.  J.  B.  Grinnell, 
after  whom  the  town  of  Grinnell  was  named.  The  latter 
gives  the  following  note  as  a  sample  of  the  messages  that 
passed  between  them :  — 

Dear  Grinnell :  —  Uncle  Tom  says  if  the  roads  are  not  too  bad 
you  can  look  for  those  fleeces  of  wool  by  to-morrow.  Send  them 
on  to  test  the  market  and  price,  no  back  charges. 



There  were  many  persons  engaged  in  underground  work 
that  did  not  always  take  the  precaution  to  veil  their  commu- 
nications. Judge  Thomas  Lee,  of  the  Western  Reserve,  was 
one  of  this  class,  as  the  following  letter  to  Mr.  Putnam,  of 
Point  Harmar,  will  show :  — 

Cadiz,  Ohio,  March  17th,  1847. 
Me.  David  Putnam, 

Dear  Sir:  —  I  understand  you  are  a  friend  to  the  poor  and 
are  willing  to  obey  the  heavenly  mandate,  "  Hide  the  outcasts, 
betray  not  him  that  wandereth."  Believing  this,  and  at  the 
request  of  Stephen  Fairfax  (who  has  been  permitted  in  divine 
providence  to  enjoy  for  a  few  days  the  kind  of  liberty  which 
Ohio  gives  to  the  man  of  colour),  I  would  be  glad  if  you  could 
find  out  and  let  me  know  by  letter  what  are  the  prospects  if  any 

''■History  of  Clinton  County,  Iowa,  article  on  the  "Underground  Rail- 
road," pp.  41.3-416. 

2  J.  B.  Grinnell,  Men  and  Events  of  Forty  Years,  p.  217. 


and  the  probable  time  when,  the  balance  of  the  family  -will  make 
the  same  eifort  to  obtain  their  inalienable  right  to  life,  liberty, 
and  the  pursuit  of  happiness.  Their  friends  who  have  gone 
north  are  very  anxious  to  have  them  follow,  as  they  think  it 
much  better  to  work  for  eight  or  ten  dollars  per  month  than 
to  work  for  nothing. 

Yours  in  behalf  of  the  millions  of  poor,  opprest  and  down- 
trodden in  our  land. 

Thomas   Lee. 

In  the  conveyance  of  fugitives  from  station  to  station 
there  existed  all  the  variety  of  method  one  would  expect  to 
find.  In  the  early  days  of  the  Underground  Road  the  fugi- 
tives were  generally  men.  It  was  scarcely  thought  neces- 
sary to  send  a  guide  with  them  unless  some  special  reason 
for  so  doing  existed.  They  were,  therefore,  commonly  given 
such  directions  as  they  needed  and  left  to  their  own  devices. 
As  the  number  of  refugees  increased,  and  women  and  chil- 
dren were  more  frequently  seen  upon  the  Road,  and  pursuit 
was  more  common,  the  practice  of  transporting  fugitives  on 
horseback,  or  by  vehicle,  was  introduced.  The  steam  rail- 
road was  a  new  means  furnished  to  abolitionists  by  the 
progress  of  the  times,  and  used  by  them  with  greater  or  less 
frequency  as  circumstances  required,  and  when  the  safety 
of  passengers  would  not  be  sacrificed.  "~~ 

When  fugitive  travellers  afoot  or  on  horseback  found 
themselves  pursued,  safety  lay  in  flight,  unless  indeed  the 
company  was  large  enough,  courageous  enough,  and  suffi- 
ciently well  armed  to  give  battle.  The  safety  of  fugitives 
while  travelling  by  conveyance  lay  mainly  in  their  conceal- 
ment, and  many  were  the  stratagems  employed.  /Character- 
istic of  the  service  of  the  Underground  Railroad  were  the 
covered  wagons,  closed  carriages  and  deep-bedded  farm- 
wagons  that  hid  the  passengers.  ^  There  are  those  living 
who  remember  special  day-coaches  of  more  peculiar  con- 
struction. Abram  Allen,  a  Quaker  of  Oakland,  Clinton 
County,  Ohio,  had  a  large  three-seated  wagon,  made  for  the 
purpose  of  carrying  fugitives.  He  called  it  the  Liberator. 
It  was  curtained  all  around,  would  hold  eight  or  ten  persons, 
and  had  a  mechanism  with  a  bell,  invented  by  Mr.  Allen,  to 


record  the  number  of  miles  travelled.^,.  A  citizen  of  Troy, 
Ohio,  a  bookbinder  by  trade,  had  a  large  wagon,  built  about 
with  drawers  in  such  a  way  as  to  leave  a  large  hiding-place 
in  the  centre  of  the  wagon-bed.  As  the  bookbinder  drove 
through  the  country  he  found  opportunity  to  help  many  a 
fugitive  on  his  way  to  Canada.^  '  Horace  Holt,  of  Rutland, 
Meigs  County,  Ohio,  sold  reeds  to  his  neighbors  in  southern 
Ohio.  He  had  a  box-bed  wagon  with  a  lid  that  fastened 
with  a  padlock.  In  this  he  hauled  his  supply  of  reeds ;  it 
was  well  understood  by  a  few  that  he  also  hauled  fugitive 
slaves.^  Joseph  Sider,  of  southern  Indiana,  found  his 
pedler  wagon  well  adapted  to  the  transportation  of  slaves 
from  Kentucky  plantations.*  William  Still  gives  instances 
of  negroes  being  placed  in  boxes,  and  shipped  as  freight  by 
boat,  and  also  by  rail,  to  friends  in  the  North.  William  Box 
Peel  Jones  was  boxed  in  Baltimore  and  sent  to  Philadelphia 
by  way  of  the  Ericsson  line  of  steamers,  being  seventeen  hours 
on  the  way.^  Henry  Box  Brown  had  the  same  thrilling  and 
perilous  experience.  His  trip  consumed  twenty-four  hours, 
during  which  time  he  was  in  the  care  of  the  Adams  Express 
Company  in  transit  from  Richmond,  Virginia,  to  Phila- 

Abolitionists  that  drove  wagons  or  carriages  containing 
refugees,  "  conductors "  as  they  came  to  be  called  in  the 
terminology  of  the  Railroad  service,  generally  took  the  pre- 
caution to  have  ostensible  reasons  for  their  journeys.  They 
sought  to  divest  their  excursions  of  the  air  of  mystery  by 
seeming  to  be  about  legitimate  business.  Hannah  Marsh,  of 
Chester  County,  Pennsylvania,  was   in  the  habit  of  taking 

1  Judge  R.  B.  Harlan  and  others,  History  of  Clinton  County,  Ohio,  pp. 
380-383  ;  letter  of  Seth  Linton,  Oakland,  Clinton  County,  0.,  Sept.  4,  1892 ; 
Smedley,  Underground  Railroad,  p.  187. 

^  The  Miami  Union,  April  10, 1895,  article  entitled  "A  Reminiscence  of 
Slave  Times." 

^  Letter  of  Mrs.  C.  Grant,  Pomeroy,  Meigs  Co.,  O. 

*  The  Sepublican  Leader,  March  16,  1894,  article,  "Reminiscence  of  the 
Underground  Railroad,"  by  E.  H.  Trueblood. 

^  See  Underground  Bailroad  Becords,  pp.  46,  47. 

^  Ibid. ,  pp.  81-84 ;  see  also  Narrative  of  Henry  Box  Brown,  who  escaped 
from  slavery  enclosed  in  a  box  3  feet  long  and  S  wide,  written  from  a  state- 
ment of  facts  made  by  himself,  1849,  by  Charles  Stearns. 


garden  produce  to  the  Philadelphia  markets  to  sell ;  when, 
therefore,  she  sometimes  used  her  covered  market-wagon, 
even  in  daytime,  to  convey  fugitives,  she  attracted  no  atten- 
tion, and  made  her  trips  without  molestation.^  Calvin  Fair- 
bank  abducted  the  Stanton  family,  father,  mother  and  six 
children,  from  the  neighborhood  of  Covington,  Kentucky,  by 
packing  them  in  a  load  of  straw.^  James  W.  Torrence,  of 
Northwood,  Ohio,  together  with  some  of  his  neighbors  ex- 
ported grain,  and  sometimes  feathers,  to  Sandusky.  These 
products  were  generally  shipped  when  there  were  fugitives 
to  go  with  the  load.  As  the  distance  to  Sandusky  was  a 
hundred  and  twenty  miles,  refugees  who  happened  to  profit 
by  this  arrangement  were  saved  much  time  and  no  small 
amount  of  risk  in  getting  to  their  destination.^  Mr.  William 
I.  Bowditch,  of  Boston,  used  a  two-horse  carryall  on  one  oc- 
casion to  take  a  single  fugitive  to  Concord.*  Mr.  John 
Weldon  and  other  abolitionists,  of  Dwight,  Illinois,  took 
negroes  to  Chicago  concealed  in  wagons  loaded  with  sacks  of 
bran.^  ''Levi  Coffin,  of  Cincinnati,  Ohio,  frequently  received 
large  companies  for  which  safe  transportation  had  to  be  sup- 
plied. On  one  occasion  a  party  of  twenty-eight  negroes  ar- 
rived, towards  daylight,  in  the  suburbs  of  Cincinnati,  from 
Boone  County,  Kentucky,  and  it  was  necessary  to  send  them 
on  at  once.  Accordingly  at  Friend  Coffin's  suggestion  a 
number  of  carriages  were  procured,  formed  into  a  long 
funeral-like  procession  and  started  solemnly  on  the  road  to 
Cumminsville.®  An  almost  endless  array  of  incidents  similar 
to  these  can  be  given,  but  enough  have  been  recited  to  illus- 
trate the  caution  that  prevailed  in  the  transportation  of 
fugitive  slaves  toward  Canada. 

The  routes  were  very  far  from  being  straight.     They  are 
perhaps  best  described  by  the  word  zigzag.     The  exigencies 

1  Smedley,  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  138,  139. 

2  The  Bev.  Calvin  Fairbank  During  Slavery  Times,  pp.  24,  25 ;  see  also 
the  Chicago  Tribune,  Jan.  29,  1893,  p.  33. 

»  Conversation  with  James  W.  Torrence,   Northwood,  Logan  Co.,  O., 
Sept.  22,  1894. 

1  Letter  of  William  I.  Bowditch,  Boston,  Mass.,  April  5,  1893. 
6  Letter  of  John  Weldon,  Dwight,  HI.,  Nov.  7, 1895. 
6  History  of  Darke  County,  Ohio,  p.  332  et  seq. 


that  determined  in  what  direction  an  escaping  slave  should  go 
during  any  particular  part  of  his  journey  were,  in  the  nature 
of  the  case,  always  local.  The  ultimate  goal  was  Canada, 
but  a  safe  passage  was  of  greater  importance  than  a  quick 
one.  When  speed  would  contribute  safety  the  guide  would 
make  a  long  trip  with  his  charge,  or  perhaps  resort  to  the 
steam  railroad ;  but  under  ordinary  circumstances,  in  those 
regions  where  the  Underground  Railroad  was  most  patron- 
ized, a  guide  had  almost  always  a  choice  between  two  or 
more  routes;  he  could,  as  seemed  best  at  the  time,  take  the 
right-hand  road  to  one  station,  or  the  left-hand  road  to 
another.  In  truth,  the  underground  paths  in  these  regions 
formed  a  great  and  intricate  network,  and  it  was  in  no  small 
measure  because  the  lines  forming  the  meshes  of  this  great 
system  converged  and  branched  again  at  so  many  stations 
that  it  was  almost  an  impossibility  for  slave-hunters  to  trace 
their  negroes  through  even  a  single  county  without  finding 
themselves  on  the  wrong  trail.  It  was  a  common  stratagem 
in  times  of  special  emergency  to  switch  off  travellers  from 
one  course  to  another,  or  to  take  them  back  on  their  track 
and  then,  after  a  few  days  of  waiting,  send  them  forward 
again.  It  is,  then,  proper  to  say  that  zigzag  was  one  of  the 
regular  devices  to  blind  and  throw  off  pursuit.  It  served 
moreover  to  avoid  unfriendly  localities.  It  seems  probable 
that  the  circuitous  land  route  from  Toledo  to  Detroit  was  an 
expedient  of  this  sort,  for  slave-owners  and  their  agents  were 
often  known  to  be  on  the  lookout  along  the  direct  thorough- 
fare between  the  places  named.  The  two  routes  between 
Millersburgh  and  Lodi  in  northern  Ohio  are  explained  by 
the  statement  that  the  most  direct  route,  the  western  one, 
fell  under  suspicion  for  a  while,  and  in  the  meantime  a 
more  circuitous  path  was  followed  through  Holmesville  and 

During  the  long  process  by  which  the  slave  with  the  help  of 
friends  was  being  transmuted  into  the  freeman  he  spent  much 
of  his  time  in  concealment.  His  progress  was  made  in  the 
night-time.     When  a  station  was  reached  he  was  provided 

1  Letter  of  Thomas  L.  Smith,  Fredericksburg,  Wayne  Co.,  0.,  Oct.  6, 


with  a  hiding-place,  and  he  scarcely  left  it  until  his  host 
decided  it  would  be  safe  for  him  to  continue  his  journey. 
The  hiding-places  the  fugitive  entered  first  and  last  were  as 
dissimilar  as  can  well  be  imagined.  ^'Slaves  that  crossed  the 
Ohio  River  at  Ripley,  and  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  Rev. 
John  Rankin,  were  often  concealed  in  his  barn,  which  is  said 
to  have  been  provided  with  a  secret  cellar  for  use  by  the 
slaves  when  pursuers  approached.  The  barn  of  Deacon  Jirch 
Piatt  at  Mendon,  Illinois,  was  a  haven  into  which  many 
slaves  from  Missouri  were  piloted  by  way  of  Quincy.  A 
hazel  thicket  in  Mr.  Piatt's  pasture-lot  was  sometimes  re- 
sorted to,^  as  was  one  of  his  hayricks  that  was  hollow  and 
had  a  blind  entrance.^  Joshua  R.  Giddings,  the  sturdy  anti- 
slavery  Congressman  from  the  Western  Reserve,  had  an  out- 
of-the-way  bedroom  in  one  wing  of  his  house  at  Jefferson, 
Ohio,  that  was  kept  in  readiness  for  fugitive  slaves.^  The 
attic  over  the  Liberator  office  in  Boston  is  said  to  have  been 
a  rendezvous  for  such  persons.*  A  station-keeper  at  Plain- 
field,  Illinois,  had  a  woodpile  with  a  room  in  the  centre  for 
a  hiding-place.®  The  Rev.  J.  Porter,  pastor  of  a  Congrega- 
tional church  at  Green  Bay,  Wisconsin,  was  asked  to  furnish 
a  place  of  hiding  for  a  family  of  fugitives,  and  at  his  wife's 
suggestion  he  put  them  in  the  belfry  of  his  church,  where 
they  remained  three  days  before  a  vessel  came  by  which 
they  could  be  safely  transported  to  Canada.®  Mr.  James 
M.  Westwater  and  other  citizens  of  Columbus,  Ohio,  fitted 
up  an  old  smoke-house  standing  on  Chestnut  Street  near 
Fourth  Street  as  a  station  of  the  Underground  Railroad.'^ 
A  fugitive  reaching  Canton,  Washington  County,  Indiana, 
was  secreted  for  a  while  in  a  low  place  in  a  thick,  dark 

1  Letter  of  J.  E.  Piatt,  Guthrie,  Ok.,  March  28,  1896.  Mr.  Piatt  is  a  son 
of  Deacon  Jirch  Piatt. 

3  Letter  of  "William  H.  Collins,  Quincy,  HI.,  Jan.  13,  1896. 

'  Conversation  with  J.  Addison  Giddings,  Jefferson,  O. 

*  Letter  of  Lewis  Ford,  Boston,  Mass.  See  also  Beminiscences  of  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  Days  in  Boston,  by  Austin  Bearse,  1880,  p.  12. 

6  Letter  of  John  Weldon,  Dwight,  111.,  Jan.  10,  1896. 

"  Letter  of  the  Rev.  J.  E.  Roy,  Chicago,  111.,  April  9,  1896. 

'  W.  G.  Deshler  and  others,  Memorial  on  the  Death  of  James  M.  West- 
Koter,  pp.  14,  15. 


woods;  and  afterwards  in  a  rail  pen  covered  with  straw.^ 
Eli  F.  Brown,  of  Amesville,  Athens  County,  Ohio,  writes  : 
"I  built  an  addition  to  my  house  in  which  I  had  a  room 
with  its  partition  in  pannels.  One  pannel  could  be  raised 
about  a  half  inch  and  then  slid  back,  so  as  to  permit  a  man 
to  enter  the  room.  When  the  pannel  was  in  place  it 
appeared  like  its  fellows.  ...  In  the  abutment  of  Zanes- 
ville  bridge  on  the  Putnam  side  there  was  a  place  of  con- 
cealment prepared."  ^  "  Conductors  "  Levi  Coffin,  Edward 
Harwood,  and  W.  H.  Brisbane,  of  Cincinnati,  Ohio,  had  a 
number  of  hiding-places  for  slaves.  "  One  was  in  the  dark 
cellar  of  Coffin's  store;  another  was  at  Mr.  Coffin's  out-of- 
the-way  residence  between  Avondale  and  Walnut  Hills; 
another  was  a  dark  sub-cellar  under  the  rear  part  of  Dr. 
Bailey's  residence,  corner  of  Sixth  and  College  Streets."^ 
The  gallery  of  the  old  First  Church  at  Galesburg,  Illinois, 
was  utilized  as  a  place  of  concealment  for  refugees  by  cer- 
tain members  of  that  church.*  Gabe  N.  Johnson,  a  colored 
man  of  Ironton,  on  the  Ohio  River,  sometimes  hid  fugitives 
in  a  coal-bank  back  of  his  house.*  This  list  of  illustrations 
could  be  almost  indefinitely  continued.  A  sufficient  number 
has  been  given  to  show  the  ingenuity  necessarily  used  to 
secure  safety. 

In  the  transit  from  station  to  station  some  simple  disguise 
was  often  assumed.  Thomas  Garrett,  a  Quaker  of  Wilming- 
ton, Delaware,  kept  a  quantity  of  garden  tools  on  hand  for 
this  purpose.  He  sometimes  gave  a  man  a  scythe,  rake,  or 
some  other  implement  to  carry  through  town.  Having 
reached  a  certain  bridge  on  the  way  to  the  next  station,  the 
pretending  laborer  concealed  his  tool  under  it,  as  he  had  been 
directed,  and  journeyed  on.  Later  the  tool  was  taken  back 
to  Mr.  Garrett's  to  be  used  for  a  similar  purpose.®  Valentine 
Nicholson,  a  station-keeper  at  Harveysburg,  Warren  County, 

1  Letter  of  E.  H.  Trueblood,  Hitchcock,  Ind. 

2  Letter  of  B.  F.  Brown,  Amesville,  O. 

=  Cincinnati  Commercial  Gazette,  Feb.  11,  1894,  article  by  W.  Eldebe. 

*  Letter  of  Professor  George  Churchill,  Galesburg,  Jan.  29,  1896. 

'  Conversation  vyith  Gabe  N.  Johnson,  Ironton,  O.,  Sept.  30,  1894. 

*  Smedley,  Underground  Railroad,  p.  242. 


A  shelter  for  fugitives  in  Detroit,  formerly  standing  where  the  Chamber  of  Commerce 

ISuilding  now  stands. 


Fugitive  slaves  were  sometimes  concealed  in  the  gallery  of  this  church. 

(From  a  recent  photograph.) 


Ohio,  concealed  tlie  identity  of  a  fugitive,  a  mulatto,  who 
was  known  to  be  pursued,  by  blacking  his  face  and  hands 
with  burnt  cork.^  Slight  disguises  like  these  were  probably 
not  used  as  often  as  more  elaborate  ones.  The  Rev.  Calvin 
Fairbank,  and  John  Fairfield,  the  Virginian,  who  abducted 
many  slaves  from  the  South,  resorted  frequently  to  this  means 
of  securing  the  safety  of  their  followers.  Mr.  Fairbank  tells 
us  that  he  piloted  slave-girls  attired  in  the  finery  of  ladies, 
men  and  boys  tricked  out  as  gentlemen  and  the  servants  of 
gentlemen ;  and  that  sometimes  he  found  it  necessary  to 
require  his  followers  to  don  the  garments  of  the  opposite 
sex.'^  In  May,  1843,  Mr.  Fairbank  went  to  Arkansas  for 
the  purpose  of  rescuing  William  Minnis  from  bondage.  He 
found  that  the  slave  was  a  young  man  of  light  complexion 
and  prepossessing  appearance,  and  that  he  closely  resembled 
a  gentleman  living  in  the  vicinity  of  Little  Rock.  Minnis 
was,  therefore,  fitted  out  with  the  necessary  wig,  beard  and 
moustache,  and  clothes  like  those  of  his  model;  he  was 
quickly  drilled  in  the  deportment  of  his  assumed  rank', 
and,  as  the  test  proved,  he  sustained  himself  well  in  his  part. 
On  boarding  the  boat  that  was  to  carry  him  to  freedom  he 
discovered  his  owner,  Mr.  Brennan,  but  so  effectual  was  the 
slave's  make-up   that  the   master  failed  to  penetrate   the 

A  similar  story  is  told  by  Mr.  Sidney  Speed,  of  Crawfords- 
ville,  Indiana,  when  recalling  the  work  of  his  father,  John 
Speed,  and  that  of  Fisher  Doherty.  «In  1858  or  1859,  a 
mulatto  girl  about  eighteen  or  twenty  years  old,  very  good- 
looking  and  with  some  education,  .  .  .  reached  our  home. 
The  nigger-catchers  became  so  watchful  that  she  could  not 
be  moved  for  several  days.  In  fact,  some  of  them  were 
nearly  always  at  the  house  either  on  some  pretended  busi- 
ness or  making  social  visits.  I  do  not  think  that  the  house 
was  searched,  or  they  would  surely  have  found  her,  as  during 
aU  this  time  she  remained  in  the  garret  over  the  old  log 
kitchen,  where  the  fugitives  were  usually  kept  when  there 

1  Letter  of  Valentine  Nicholson,  Indianapolis,  Ind.,  Sept.  10,  1892. 
"  The  Bev.  Calvin  Fairbank  During  Slavery  Times,  p.  10. 
'  Ibid.,  p.  34  et  seq. 


was  danger.  Her  owner,  a  man  from  New  Orleans,  had 
just  bought  her  in  Louisville,  and  he  had  traced  her  surely 
to  this  place ;  she  had  not  struck  the  Underground  before,  but 
had  made  her  way  alone  this  far,  and  as  they  got  no  trace  of 
her  beyond  here  they  returned  and  doubled  the  watches  on 
Doherty  and  my  father.  But  at  length  a  day  came,  or  a 
night  rather,  when  she  was  led  safely  out  through  the  gar- 
dens to  the  house  of  a  colored  man  named  Patterson.  There 
she  was  rigged  out  in  as  fine  a  costume  of  silk  and  ribbons 
as  it  was  possible  to  procure  at  that  time,  and  was  furnished 
with  a  white  baby  borrowed  for  the  occasion,  and  accom- 
panied by  one  of  the  Patterson  girls  as  servant  and  nurse." 
Thus  disguised,  the  lady  boarded  the  train  at  the  station. 
But  what  must  have  been  her  feelings  to  find  her  master 
already  in  the  same  car;  he  was  setting  out  to  watch 
for  her  at  the  end  of  the  line.  She  kept  her  courage,  and 
when  they  reached  Detroit  she  went  aboard  the  ferry-boat 
for  Canada  ;  her  pretended  nurse  returned  to  shore  with  the 
borrowed  baby ;  and  as  the  gang-plank  was  being  raised,  the 
young  slave-woman  on  the  boat  removed  her  veil  that  she 
might  bid  her  owner  good-by.  The  master's  display  of 
anger  as  he  gazed  at  the  departing  boat  was  as  real  as  the 
situation  was  gratifying  to  his  former  slave  and  amusing  to 
the  bystanders.^ 

John  Fairfield,  the  Virginian,  depended  largely  on  dis- 
guises in  several  of  his  abducting  exploits.  At  one  time  he 
was  asked  by  a  number  of  Canadian  refugees  to  help  some  of 
their  relatives  to  the  North,  and  when  he  found  that  many 
of  them  had  very  light  complexions,  he  decided  to  send  them 
to  Canada  disguised  as  white  persons.  Having  secured  for 
them  the  requisite  wigs  and  powder,  he  was  gratified  with 
the'  transformation  in  appearance  they  were  able  to  effect. 
He  therefore  secured  tickets  for  his  party,  and  placed  them 
aboard  a  night  train  for  Harrisburg,  where  they  were  met  by 
a  person  who  accompanied  them  to  Cleveland  and  saw  them 
take  boat  for  Detroit.  Later  Fairfield  succeeded  in  aiding 
other  companies  of  slaves  to  escape  from  "Washington  and 

1  Letter  from  Mr.  Sidney  Speed,  Crawfordsville,  Ind.,  March  6,  1896. 


Harper's  Ferry  by  resorting  to  similar  means.^  Among  the 
Quakers  the  woman's  costume  was  a  favorite  disguise  for 
fugitives.  No  one  attired  in  it  was  likely  to  be  in  the  least 
degree  suspicioned  of  being  anything  else  than  what  the 
garb  proclaimed.  The  veiled  bonnet  also  was  peculiarly 
adapted  to  conceal  the  features  of  the  person  disguised.^ 
One  incident  will  suffice  to  show  the  utility  of  the  Quaker 
costume.  One  evening  Joseph  G.  Walker,  a  Quaker  of  Wil- 
mington, Delaware,  was  appealed  to  by  a  slave-woman,  who 
was  closely  pursued.  She  was  permitted  to  enter  Mr. 
Walker's  house,  and  a  few  minutes  later,  in  the  gown  and 
bonnet  of  Mrs.  Walker,  she  passed  out  of  the  front  door  lean- 
ing upon  the  arm  of  the  shrewd  Quaker.^ 

It  is  quite  apparent  that  the  Underground  Railroad  was 
not  a  formal  organization  with  officers  of  different  ranks,  a 
regular  membership,  and  a  treasury  from  which  to  meet  ex- 
penses. A  terminology,  it  is  true,  sprang  up  in  connection 
with  the  work  of  the  Road,  and  one  hears  of  station-keepers, 
agents,  conductors,  and  even  presidents  of  the  Underground 
Railroad;  but  these  titles  were  figurative  terms,  borrowed 
with  other  expressions  from  the  convenient  vocabulary  of 
steam  railways;  and  while  they  were  useful  among  aboli- 
tionists to  save  circumlocution,  they  commended  themselves 
to  the  friends  of  the  slave  by  helping  to  mystify  the  minds  of 
the  public.  The  need  of  organization  was  not  felt  except  in 
a  few  localities.  It  was  only  in  towns  and  cities  that  the 
distinctions  of  "  managers,"  "  contributing  members,"  and 
"  agents  "  began  to  develop  in  any  significant  way,  and  even 
in  the  case  of  these  places  the  distinctions  must  not  be 
pushed  far,  for  they  indicate  merely  that  certain  men  by 
their  sagacious  activity  came  to  be  called  "  managers,"  while 
others  less  bold,  the  contributing  members,  were  willing  to 
give  money  towards  defraying  the  expenses  of  some  trusty 
person,  the  agent,  who  would  run  the  risk  of  piloting  fugi- 

The  first  reference  to  an  organization  devoted  to  the  busi- 

1  Beminiseences  of  Levi  Coffin,  pp.  439-442. 

2  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  61. 
'  Smedley,  Underground  Bailroad,  p.  244. 


ness  of  aiding  fugitive  slaves  occurs  in  a  letter  of  George 
Washington,  bearing  date  May  12, 1786.  Washington  speaks 
of  a  "society  of  Quakers  in  the  city  [Philadelphia],  formed 
for  such  purposes.  .  .  ."  ^  We  have  no  means  of  knowing 
how  this  body  conducted  its  work,  nor  how  long  it  continued 
to  exist.  It  is  sometimes  stated  that  the  formal  organization 
of  the  Underground  Road  took  place  in  1838,  but  this  is  not 
an  accurate  statement.  An  organized  society  of  the  Under- 
ground Railroad  was  formed  in  Philadelphia  about  the  year 
1838.  Mr.  Robert  Purvis,  who  was  the  president,  has  called 
this  body  the  first  of  its  kind,  but  this  may  be  doubted  in 
view  of  the  quotation  from  Washington's  letter  above  cited. 
The  character  of  the  organization  appears  from  the  following 
account  of  its  methods  given  by  Mr.  Purvis  :  ^  "  The  funds 
for  carrying  on  this  enterprise  were  raised  from  our  anti- 
slavery  friends,  as  the  cases  came  up,^  and  their  needs  de- 
manded it ;  for  many  of  the  fugitives  required  no  other  help 
than  advice  and  direction  how  to  proceed.  To  the  late 
Daniel  Neall,  the  society  was  greatly  indebted  for  his  gener- 
ous gifts,  as  well  as  for  his  encouraging  words  and  fearless 
independence.  .  .  .  The  most  eflBcient  helpers  or  agents  we 
had,  were  two  market-women,  who  lived  in  Baltimore.  .  .  . 

"  Another  most  effective  worker  was  a  son  of  a  slaveholder, 
who  lived  at  Newberne,  S.C.  Through  his  agency,  the  slaves 
were  forwarded  by  placing  them  on  vessels.  .  .  .  Having 
the  address  of  the  active  members  of  the  committee,  they  were 
enabled  to  find  us,  when  not  accompanied  by  our  agents.  .  .  . 
The  fugitives  were  distributed  among  the  members  of  the 
society,  but  most  of  them  were  received  at  my  house  in  Phil- 
adelphia, where  ...  I  caused  a  place  to  be  constructed  under- 
neath a  room,  which  could  only  be  entered  by  a  trap-door  in 
the  floor.  .  .  ." 

This  account  shows  clearly  that  the  organization  of  1838 
was  limited ;  and  while  it  was  officered  with  a  president,  sec- 

1  Spark's  Washington,  IX,  158,  quoted  in  Quakers  of  Pennsylvania,  by 
Dr.  A.  C.  Applegarth,  Johns  Hopkins  Studies,  X,  463. 

2  The  letter  from  which  this  quotation  is  made  will  be  found  in  Under- 
ground Sailroad,  by  R.  C.  Smedley,  pp.  355,  356. 

*  The  italics  are  my  own. 


retary  and  committee,  and  had  helpers  at  a  distance  called 
agents,  it  can  scarcely  be  said  that  the  plan  of  action  of  the 
society  was  different  in  essential  points  from  that  which  de- 
veloped without  the  formality  of  election  of  officers  in  many 
underground  centres  throughout  the  Northern  states.  Levi 
Coffin,  by  his  devotion  to  the  cause  of  the  fugitive  from  boy- 
hood to  old  age,  gained  the  title  of  President  of  the  Under- 
ground Eailroad,^  but  he  was  not  at  the  head  of  a  formal 
organization.  In  northeastern  Illinois,  Peter  Stewart,  a  pros- 
perous citizen  of  Wilmington,  who  was  a  very  active  worker 
in  the  cause,  was  sometimes  called  President  of  the  Under- 
ground Railroad,^  but  here  again  the  distinction  seems  to  have 
been  complimentary  and  figurative.  In  truth  the  work  was 
everywhere  spontaneous,  and  its  character  was  such  that 
organization  could  have  added  little  or  no  efficiency.  Unfal- 
tering confidence  among  members  of  neighboring  stations 
served  better  than  a  code  of  rules;  special  messengers  sent 
on  the  spur  of  the  moment  took  the  place  of  conferences  held 
at  stated  seasons;  supplies  gathered  privately  as  they  were 
needed  sufficed  instead  of  regular  dues ;  and,  in  general,  the 
decision  and  sagacity  of  the  individual  was  required  rather 
than  the  less  rapid  efforts  of  an  organization. 

In  a  few  centres  where  the  amount  of  secret  service  to  be 
done  was  large,  a  slight  specialization  of  work  is  to  be  noticed. 
This  division  of  labor  consisted  in  the  employment  of  a  regu- 
lar conductor  or  agent  at  these  points  to  manage  the  work  of 
transportation  of  passengers  to  points  farther  north;  while 
the  station-keepers  attended  more  closely  to  the  work  of  re- 
ceiving and  caring  for  the  new  arrivals.  The  special  con- 
ductors chosen  were  men  thoroughly  acquainted  with  the 
different  routes  of  their  respective  neighborhoods.  At 
Mechanicsburg,  Champaign  County,  Ohio,  Udney  Hyde,  a 
fearless  and  well-known  citizen,  acted  as  agent  between  the 
local  stations  of  J.  R.  Ware  and  Levi  Rathbun,  and  stations 
to  the  northeast  as  far  as  the  Alum  Creek  Quaker  Settlement, 

1  Howe,  Historical  Collections  of  Ohio,  Vol.  II,  pp.  103, 104 ;  see  also  the 
Meminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin. 

'  George  H.  Woodruff,  History  of  Will  County,  Illinois,  p.  268. 


a  distance  of  forty  miles.^  The  stations  at  Mechanicsburg 
were  among  the  most  widely  known  in  central  and  southern 
Ohio.  They  received  fugitives  from  at  least  three  regular 
routes,  and  doubtless  had  "  switch  connections  "  with  other 
lines.  Passengers  were  taken  northward  over  one  of  the  three, 
perhaps  four  roads,  and  as  one  or  two  of  these  lay  through 
pro-slavery  neighborhoods  a  brave  and  experienced  agent  was 
almost  indispensable.  George  W.  S.  Lucas,  a  colored  man  of 
Salem,  Columbiana  County,  Ohio,  made  frequent  trips  with 
the  closed  carriage  of  Philip  Evans,  between  Barnesville,  New 
Philadelphia  and  Cadiz,  and  two  stations,  Ashtabula  and 
Painesville,  on  the  shore  of  Lake  Erie.  Occasionally  Mr. 
Lucas  conducted  parties  to  Cleveland  and  Sandusky  and 
Toledo,  but  in  such  cases  he  went  on  foot  or  by  stage.^  His 
trips  were  sometimes  a  hundred  miles  and  more  in  length. 
George  L.  Burroughes,  a  colored  man  of  Cairo,  Illinois,  be- 
came an  agent  for  the  Underground  Road  in  1857,  while  act- 
ing as  porter  of  a  sleeping-car  running  on  the  Illinois  Central 
Railroad  between  Cairo  and  Chicago.^  At  Albany,  New  York, 
Stephen  Meyers,  a  negro,  was  an  agent  of  the  Underground 
Road  for  a  wide  extent  of  territory.*  At  Detroit  there  were 
several  colored  agents ;  among  them  George  De  Baptiste  and 
George  Dolarson.^ 

The  slight  approach  to  organization  manifest  in  some  centres 
in  the  division  of  labor  between  station-keepers  and  special 

1  Conversation  with  J.  R.  Ware,  and  with  the  daughter  of  Mr.  Hyde, 
Mrs.  Amanda  Shepherd,  Mechanicsburg,  O.,  Sept.  7,  1895;  conyersation 
with  Major  Joseph  C.  Brand,  Urbana,  O.,  Aug.  13,  1894. 

2  Conversation  with  George  W.  S.  Lucas,  Salem,  Columbiana  Co.,  Aug.  14, 
1892,  when  he  was  fifty-nine  years  old.  He  was  remarkably  clear  and  con- 
vincing in  his  statements,  many  of  which  have  since  been  corroborated. 
Citizens  of  Salem  referred  to  him  as  a  reliable  source  of  information. 

8  Letter  from  George  L.  Burroughes,  Cairo,  HI.,  Jan.  6,  1896.  Mr.  Bur- 
roughes said  that  Mr.  Robert  Delany,  a  friend  from  Canada,  proposed  to 
him  that  they  both  take  an  agency  for  the  Underground  Railroad.  Delany 
took  the  Rock  Island  route  and  Burroughes  the  Cairo  route. 

*  Letter  of  Martin  J^Townsend,  Troy,  N.Y.,  Sept.  4, 1896.  Mr.  Townsend 
was  counsel  for  the  fugitivS^'Shailes  Nalle,  in  the  Nalle  or  Troy  Rescue  case. 
See  the  little  book  entitled,  Harriet,  the  Moses  of  Her  People,  2d  ed.,  p.  146 ; 
see  also  History  of  the  County  of  Albany,  New  York,  from  1609-1886, 
p.  725. 

'  Conversation  with  Judge  J.  W.  Finney,  Detroit,  Mich.,  July  27, 1897. 


agents  or  conductors  was  caused  by  the  large  number  of  fugi- 
tives arriving  at  these  points,  and  the  extreme  caution  neces- 
sary. When,  at  length,  indignation  was  aroused  in  the  minds 
of  Northern  abolitionists  by  the  passage  of  the  Fugitive  Slave 
Law,  September  18,  1850,  the  determination  to  resist  this 
measure  displayed  itself  in  certain  localities  in  the  formation 
of  vigilance  committees.  Theodore  Parker  explains  that 
it  was  in  consequence  of  the  enactment  of  this  measure  that 
"people  held  indignant  meetings,  and  organized  committees 
of  vigilance  whose  duty  was  to  prevent  a  fugitive  from  being 
arrested,  if  possible,  or  to  furnish  legal  aid,  and  raise  every 
obstacle  to  his  rendition.  The  vigilance  committees,"  he 
says,  "were  also  the  employees  of  the  U.  G.  R.  R.  and 
effectively  disposed  of  many  a  casus  belli  by  transferring  the 
disputed  chattel  to  Canada.  Money,  time,  wariness,  devoted- 
ness  for  months  and  years,  that  cannot  be  computed,  and  will 
never  be  recorded,  except,  perhaps,  in  connection  with  cases 
whose  details  had  peculiar  interest,  was  nobly  rendered  by 
the  true  anti-slavery  men."  ^  Such  committees  of  vigUance 
were  organized  in  Syracuse,  New  York,  Boston,  Springfield 
and  some  of  the  smaller  towns  of  Massachusetts,  in  Phila- 
delphia and  other  places.  New  -York  City,  like  Philadelphia, 
had  a  Vigilance  Committee  as  early  as  1838.  About  this 
association  of  the  metropolis  there  is  scarcely  any  informa- 
tion.2  We  must  be  content  then  to  confine  our  attention  to 
the  committees  called  into  existence  by  the  Fugitive  Slave 
Law  of  1850. 

Eight  days  after  the  enactment  of  this  law  citizens  of  Syra- 
cuse, New  York,  issued  a  call  through  the  newspapers  for  a 
public  meeting,  and  on  October  4  members  of  all  parties 
crowded  the  city-hall  to  express  their  censure  of  the  law. 
The  meeting  recommended  "  the  appointment  of  a  Vigilance 
Commitee  of  thirteen  citizens,  whose  duty  it  shall  be  to  see 
that  no  person  is  deprived  of  his  liberty  without '  due  process 
of  law.'    And  all  good  citizens  are  earnestly  requested  to  aid 

1  Weiss,  Life  and  Correspondence  of  Theodore  Parker,  Vol.  II,  pp.  92,  93. 

"  Frederick  Douglass  relates  that  when  he  escaped  from  Maryland  to  New 
York,  in  1838,  he  was  hefriended  by  David  Ruggles,  the  secretary  of  the 
New  York  Vigilance  Committee  ;  Life  of  Frederick  Douglass,  1881,  p.  206. 


and  sustain  them  in  all  needed  efforts  for  the  security  of  every 
person  claiming  the  protection  of  our  laws."  This  committee 
was  appointed  and  an  address  and  resolutions  adopted.^  At 
an  adjourned  meeting  held  on  October  12  the  assemblage 
voted  to  form  an  association,  "  pledged  to  stand  by  its  mem- 
bers in  opposing  this  law,  and  to  share  with  any  of  them  the 
pecuniary  losses  they  may  incur  under  the  operation  of  this 
law."  The  determination  shown  in  the  organization  of  these 
two  bodies  was  well  sustained  a  year  later  when  the  attempt 
was  made  by  officers  of  the  law  to  seize  Jerry  McHenry  as  a 
fugitive  slave.  The  Vigilance  Committee  decided  to  storm 
the  court-house,  where  the  colored  man  was  confined  under 
guard,  and  rescue  the  prisoner.  This  daring  piece  of  work 
was  successfully  accomplished,  and  the  government  never 
again  attempted  to  recover  any  slaves  in  central  New  York.^ 
The  organization  of  the  Vigilance  Committee  of  Syracuse 
was  closely  followed  by  the  organization  of  a  similar  commit- 
tee in  Boston.  At  a  meeting  in  Faneuil  Hall,  October  14, 
1850,  resolutions  were  adopted  expressing  the  conviction  that 
no  citizen  would  take  part  in  reenslaving  a  fugitive,  and 
pledging  protection  to  the  colored  residents  of  the  city.  To 
make  good  this  pledge  a  Vigilance  Committee  of  fifty  was 
appointed.^  This  body  organized  by  choosing  a  president, 
treasurer,  and  secretary,  a  committee  of  finance,  an  executive 
committee,  a  legal  committee  and  a  committee  of  special  vigi- 
lance and  alarm.  An  appeal  was  then  issued  to  the  citizens 
of  Boston  calling  their  attention  to  the  arrival  of  many  desti- 
tute fugitives  in  Boston,  and  to  the  establishment  of  an  agency 

1  The  Rev.  J.  W.  Loguen  gives  the  names  of  the  committee  in  his  auto- 
biography, p.  396. 

2  Samuel  J.  May,  Recollections  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  pp.  349-364 ; 
Wilson,  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power  in  the  United  States,  Vol.  II, 
pp.  305,  306. 

5  Ibid.,  p.  308.  The  list  of  members  of  the  Committee  of  VigUanoe  given 
by  Austin  Bearse,  the  doorkeeper  of  the  Committee,  contains  two  hundred 
and  nine  names.  Among  these  are  A.  Bronson  Alcott,  Edward  Atkinson, 
Henry  I.  Bowditch,  Richard  H.  Dana,  Jr.,  Lewis  Hayden,  William  Lloyd 
Garrison,  Samuel  G.  Howe,  Francis  Jackson,  Ellis  Gray  Loring,  James 
Russell  Lowell,  Theodore  Parker,  Edmund  Quincy  and  others  of  distinction. 
See  pp.  3,  4,  5,  6,  in  Mr.  Bearse's  Seminiscences  of  Fugitive-Slave-Law  Days 
in  Boston. 


for  the  purpose  of  securing  employment  for  fugitive  appli- 
cants. Gifts  of  money  and  clothing  were  asked  for.  In  re- 
sponse to  a  circular  sent  out  by  the  finance  committee  to  all 
the  churches  in  1851,  a  sum  of  about  sixteen  hundred  dollars 
was  raised.  That  there  might  be  cooperation  throughout 
the  state  notices  were  sent  to  all  the  towns  in  Massachusetts 
urging  the  formation  of  local  vigilance  committees ;  and  as  a 
result  such  committees  were  organized  in  some  towns.^ 

The  meeting-place  of  the  Boston  Committee  was  Meionaon 
Hall  in  Tremont  Temple.  Members  were  notified  of  an  in- 
tended meeting  personally,  if  possible,  by  the  doorkeeper  of 
the  committee,  Captain  Austin  Bearse.'^  The  proceedings  of 
the  committee  were  secret,  and  comparatively  little  is  now 
known  about  their  work.  It  is,  however,  known  that  for  ten 
years  the  organization  was  active,  and  that  although  it  was 
not  successful  in  rescuing  Sims  and  Burns  from  a  hard  fate, 
it  nevertheless  secured  the  liberty  of  more  than  a  hundred 

Soon  after  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  was  passed  John  Brown 
visited  Springfield,  Massachusetts,  where  he  had  formerly 
lived.  The  valley  of  the  Connecticut  had  long  been  a  line 
of  underground  travel,  and  citizens  of  Springfield,  colored 
and  white,  had  become  identified  with  operations  on  this  line. 
Brown  at  once  decided  that  the  new  law  made  organization 

1  For  much  valuable  material  relating  to  the  Vigilance  Committee  of  Bos- 
ton, see  Theodore  Parker's  Scrap-Book,  in  the  Boston  Public  Library. 

2  Mr.  Bearse  says:  "There  were  printed  tickets  of  notice  which  I  deliv- 
ered to  each  member  in  person,  if  possible,  of  which  the  following  copies  are 
specimens : 

'  Boston,  June  7,  1854. 

There  wiU  be  a  meeting  of  the  Vigilance  Committee  at  the  Meionaon 
(Tremont  Temple),  on  Thursday  evening,  June  8,  at  half -past  seven. 
Pass  in  by  the  Office  Entrance,  and  through  the  Meionaon  Ante-Boom. 
Theodoeb  Parkee,  Chairman  of  Executive  Committees.'' 

'  Vigilance  Committee  !    The  members  of  the  Vigilance  Committee  are 

hereby  notified  to  meet  at 

By  order  of  the  Committee, 

A.  Bearse,  Doorkeeper.'' " 
—  Beminiscences  of  Fugitive-Slave-Law  Days  in  Boston,  pp.  15,  16. 
» Ibid.,  p.  14. 


necessary,  and  he  formed,  therefore,  the  League  of  Gileadites 
to  resist  systematically  the  enforcement  of  the  law.  The 
name  of  this  order  was  significant  in  that  it  contained  a 
warning  to  those  of  its  members  that  should  show  themselves 
cowards.  "Whosoever  is  fearful  or  afraid  let  him  return 
and  depart  early  from  Mount  Gilead."  ^  In  the  "  Agreement 
and  Rules  "  that  Brown  drafted  for  the  order,  adopted  Janu- 
ary 15,  1851,  the  following  directions  for  action  were  laid 
down :  "  Should  one  of  your  number  be  arrested,  you  must 
collect  together  as  quickly  as  possible,  so  as  to  outnumber 
your  adversaries.  .  .  .  Let  no  able-bodied  man  appear  on 
the  ground  unequipped,  or  with  his  weapons  exposed  to 
view.  .  .  .  Your  plans  must  be  known  only  to  yourselves 
and  with  the  understanding  that  all  traitors  must  die,  wher- 
ever caught  and  proven  to  be  guilty.  .  .  .  Let  the  first  blow 
be  the  signal  for  all  to  engage,  .  .  .  make  clean  work  with 
your  enemies,  and  be  sure  you  meddle  not  with  any  others. 
.  .  .  After  effecting  a  rescue,  if  you  are  assailed,  go  into 
the  houses  of  your  most  prominent  and  influential  white 
friends  with  your  wives,  and  that  will  effectually  fasten  upon 
them  the  suspicion  of  being  connected  with  you,  and  will 
compel  them  to  make  a  common  cause  with  you.  .  .  .  You 
may  make  a  tumult  in  the  court-room  where  a  trial  is  going 
on  by  burning  gunpowder  freely  in  paper  packages.  .  .  . 
But  in  such  case  the  prisoner  will  need  to  take  the  hint  at 
once  and  bestir  himself ;  and  so  should  his  friends  improve 
the  opportunity  for  a  general  rush.  .  .  .  Stand  by  one 
another,  and  by  your  friends,  while  a  drop  of  blood  remains; 
and  be  hanged,  if  you  must,  but  tell  no  tales  out  of  school. 
Make  no  confession."  By  adopting  the  Agreement  and 
Rules  forty-four  colored  persons  constituted  themselves  "a 
branch  of  the  United  States  League  of  Gileadites,"  and 
agreed  "  to  have  no  ofiBcers  except  a  treasurer  and  secretary 
pro  tem.,  until  after  some  trial  of  courage,"  when  they  could 
choose  ofiicers  on  the  basis  of  "  courage,  efficiency,  and  gen- 
eral good  conduct."  ^    Doubtless  the  Gileadites  of  Springfield 

1  Judg.  vii.  3 ;  Deut.  xx.  8 ;  referred  to  by  Brown  in  his  "  Agreement  and 

"  F.  B.  Sanborn,  in  his  Life  and  Letters  of  John  Brown,  pp.  125,  126, 


Chairman  of  the  Acting  Vigilance  Committee  in  Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania,  1852-1860. 


did  efficient  service,  for  it  appears  that  the  importance  of  the 
town  as  a  way-station  on  the  Underground  Road  increased 
after  the  passage  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Bill.i 

We  have  already  learned  that  Philadelphia  had  a  Vigilance 
Committee  before  1840.  In  a  speech  made  before  the  meet- 
ing that  organized  the  new  committee,  December  2,  1852, 
Mr.  J.  Miller  McKim,  the  secretary  of  the  Pennsylvania 
Anti-Slavery  Society,  gave  the  reasons  for  establishing  a  new 
committee.  He  said  that  the  old  committee  "had  become 
disorganized  and  scattered,  and  that  for  the  last  two  or  three 
years  the  duties  of  this  department  had  been  performed  by 
individuals  on  their  own  responsibility,  and  sometimes  in  a 
very  irregular  manner."  It  was  accordingly  decided  to  form 
a  new  committee,  called  the  General  Vigilance  Committee, 
with  a  chairman  and  treasurer ;  and  within  this  body  an  Act- 
ing Committee  of  four  persons,  "  who  should  have  the  re- 
sponsibility of  attending  to  every  case  that  might  require 
their  aid,  as  well  as  the  exclusive  authority  to  raise  the  funds 
necessary  for  their  purpose."  The  General  Committee  com- 
prised nineteen  members,  and  had  as  its  head  Mr.  Robert 
Purvis,  one  of  the  signers  of  the  Declaration  of  Sentiments 
of  the  American  Anti-Slavery  Society,  and  the  first  president 
of  the  old  committee.  The  Acting  Committee  had  as  its 
chairman  William  Still,  a  colored  clerk  in  the  office  of  the 
Pennsylvania  Anti-Slavery  Society  and  a  most  energetic 
underground  helper.  The  Philadelphia  Vigilance  Commit- 
tee, thus  constituted,  continued  intact  until  Lincoln  issued 
the  Emancipation  Proclamation.^  Some  insight  into  the 
work  accomplished  by  the  Acting  Committee  can  be  ob- 
tained by  an  examination  of  the  book  compiled  by  William 
Still  under  the  title  Underground  Railroad  Records.  The 
Acting  Committee  was  required  to  keep  a  record  of  all  its 
doings.     Mr.  Still's  volume  was  evidently  amassed  by  the 

gives  the  agreement,  rules,  and  signatures.  See  also  R.  J.  Hinton's  John 
Brown  and  His  Men,  Appendix,  pp.  585,  588. 

1  Mason  A.  Green,  History  of  Springfield,  Massachusetts,  1636-1886, 
p.  506. 

^  Article,  "  Meeting  to  Form  a  Vigilance  Committee,"  in  the  Pennsylvania 
Freeman,  Dec.  9, 1852 ;  quoted  in  Underground  Eailroad  Records,  by  William 
Still,  pp.  610-612. 


transcription  of  many  of  the  incidents  that  found  their  way 
under  this  order  into  the  archives  of  the  committee.  The 
work  was  limited  to  the  assistance  of  such  needy  fugitives  as 
came  to  Philadelphia ;  and  was  not  extended,  except  in  rare 
cases,  to  inciting  slaves  to  run  away  from  their  masters,  or  to 
aiding  them  in  so  doing.i 

The  relief  of  the  destitution  existing  among  the  wayworn 
travellers  was  a  matter  requiring  considerable  outlay  of  time 
and  money  on  the  part  of  abolitionists.  There  was  occasion- 
ally a  fugitive  or  family  of  fugitives,  that,  having  better 
opportunity  or  possessing  greater  foresight  than  others,  made 
provision  for  the  journey  and  escaped  to  Canada  with  little 
or  no  dependence  on  the  aid  of  underground  operators. 
Asbury  Parker,  of  fronton,  Ohio,  fled  from  Greenup  County, 
Kentucky,  in  1857,  clad  in  a  suit  of  broadcloth,  alone  befit- 
ting, as  he  thought,  the  dignity  of  a  free  man.^  The  brother 
of  Anthony  Bingey,  of  Windsor,  Ontario,  came  unexpectedly 
into  the  possession  of  five  hundred  dollars.  With  this  money 
he  instructed  a  friend  in  Cincinnati  to  procure  a  team  and 
wagon  to  convey  the  family  of  Bingey  to  Canada.  The  com- 
pany arrived  at  Sandusky  after  being  only  three  days  on  the 

But  the  mass  of  fugitives  were  thinly  clad,  and  had  only 
such  food  as  they  could  forage  until  they  reached  the  Under- 
ground Railroad.  The  arrival  of  a  company  at  a  station  would 
be  at  once  followed  by  the  preparation,  often  at  midnight,  of 
a  meal  for  the  pilgrims  and  their  guides.  It  was  a  common 
thing  for  a  station  to  entertain  a  company  of  five  or  six  ;  and 
companies  of  twenty-eight  or  thirty  are  not  unheard  of.  Levi 
Coffin  says,  "  The  largest  company  of  slaves  ever  seated  at 
our  table,  at  one  time,  numbered  seventeen."  *  During  one 
month  in  the  year  1854  or  1855  there  were  sixty  runaways 
at  the  house  of  Aaron  L.  Benedict,  a  station  in  the  Alum 

1  Still's  Underground  Mailroad  Records,  p.  177.  References  to  the  action 
of  the  committee  of  which  Mr.  Still  was  chairman  will  be  found  scattered 
through  the  Becords.  See,  for  example,  pp.  70,  98,  102,  131,  150,  162,  173, 
176,  204,  224,  274,  275,  303,  325,  335,  388,  412,  449,  493,  500. 

2  Conversation  with  Ashury  Parker,  Ironton,  O.,  Sept.  30,  1894. 

"  Conversation  with  Anthony  Bingey,  Windsor,  Ont. ,  July  3,  1895. 
'  Beminiscences,  p.  178. 


Creek  Quaker  Settlement  in  central  Ohio.  On  one  occasion 
twenty  sat  down  to  dinner  in  Mr.  Benedict's  house. ^  It  will 
thus  be  seen  that  the  supply  of  provisions  alone  was  for  the 
average  station-keeper  no  inconsiderable  item  of  expense, 
and  that  it  was  one  involving  much  labor. 

The  arrangements  for  furnishing  fugitives  with  clothing, 
like  much  of  the  underground  work  done  at  the  stations, 
came  within  the  province  of  the  women  of  the  stations. 
While  the  noted  fugitive,  William  Wells  Brown,  lay  sick  at 
the  house  of  his  benefactor,  Mr.  Wells  Brown,  in  southwest- 
ern Ohio,  the  family  made  him  some  clothing,  and  Mr. 
Brown  purchased  him  a  pair  of  boots.^  Women's  anti-sla- 
very societies  in  many  places  conducted  sewing-circles,  as  a 
branch  of  their  work,  for  the  purpose  of  supplying  clothes 
and  other  necessities  to  fugitives.  The  Woman's  Anti-Sla- 
very Society  of  Ellington,  Chautauqua  County,  New  York, 
sent  a  letter  to  William  Still,  November  21,  1859,  saying : 
"  Every  year  we  have  sent  a  box  of  clothing,  bedding,  etc., 
to  the  aid  of  the  fugitive,  and  wishing  to  send  it  where  it 
would  be  of  the  most  service,  we  have  it  suggested  to  us,  to 
send  to  you  the  box  we  have  at  present.  You  would  confer 
a  favor  ...  by  writing  us,  .  .  .  whether  or  not  it  would  be 
more  advantageous  to  you  than  some  nearer  station.  .  .  ."  ^ 

The  Women's  Anti-Slavery  Sewing  Society  of  Cincinnati 
maintained  an  active  interest  in  underground  work  going  on 
in  their  city  by  supplying  clothing  to  needy  travellers.*  The 
Female  Anti-Slavery  Association  of  Henry  County,  Indiana, 
organized  a  Committee  of  Vigilance  in  1841  "  to  seek  out 
such  colored  females  as  are  not  suitably  provided  for,  who 
may  now  be,  or  who  shall  hereafter  come,  within  our  limits, 
and  assist  them  in  any  way  they  may  deem  expedient,  either 
by  advice  or  pecuniary  means.  .   .  ."  ^ 

1  Conversation  with  M.  J.  Benedict,  Alum  Creek  Settlement,  Dec.  2, 1893. 
See  also  Underground  Bailroad,  Smedley,  pp.  56,  136,  142,  174. 

2  Narrative  of  William  W.  Brown,  A  Fugitive  Slave,  -written  by  Mmself, 
2ded.,  1848,  p.  102. 

«  The  letter  is  printed  in  full,  together  with  other  letters,  in  Still's  Under- 
ground Railroad  Records,  pp.  590,  591. 

*  Levi  CofSn,  Beminiscences,  p.  316. 

6  Protectionist,  Arnold  Bufium,  Editor,  New  Garden,  Ind.,  7th  mo.,  1st, 


/  In  some  of  the  large  centres,  money  as  well  as  clothing 
and  food  was  constantly  needed  for  the  proper  performance 
of  the  underground  work.  Thus,  for  example,  at  Cincinnati, 
Ohio,  it  was  frequently  necessary  to  hire  carriages  in  which 
to  convey  fugitives  out  of  the  city  to  some  neighboring 
station.  From  time  to  time  as  the  occasion  arose  Levi  Coffin 
collected  the  funds  needed  for  such  purposes  from  business 
acquaintances.  He  called  these  contributors  "stock-holders  " 
in  the  Underground  Railroad.^  After  steam  railroads  be- 
came incorporated  in  the  underground  system  money  was 
required  at  different  points  to  purchase  tickets  for  fugitives. 
The  Vigilance  Committee  of  Philadelphia  defrayed  the  trav- 
elling expenses  of  many  refugees  in  sending  some  to  New 
York  City,  some  to  Elmira  and  a  few  to  Canada.^  Fred- 
erick Douglass,  who  kept  a  station  at  Rochester,  New  York, 
received  contributions  of  money  to  pay  the  railroad  fares  of 
the  fugitives  he  forwarded  to  Canada  and  to  give  them  a 
little  more  for  pressing  necessities.^ 

The  use  of  steam  railroads  as  a  means  of  transportation  of 
this  class  of  passengers  began  with  the  completion  of  lines  of 
road  to  the  lakes.  This  did  not  take  place  till  about  1850. 
It  was,  therefore,  during  the  last  decade  of  the  history  of  the 
Underground  Road  that  surface  lines,  as  they  were  some- 
times called  by  abolitionists,  became  a  part  of  the  secret 
system.  There  were  probably  more  surface  lines  in  Ohio 
than  in  any  other  state.  The  old  Mad  River  Railroad,  or 
Sandusky,  Dayton  and  Cincinnati  Railroad,  of  western  Ohio, 
(now  a  part  of  the  "  Big  Four  "  system),  began  to  be  used  at 
least  as  early  as  1852  by  instructed  fugitives.*  The  San- 
dusky, Mansfield  and  Newark  Railroad  (now  the  Baltimore 
and  Ohio)  from  Utica,  Licking  County,  Ohio,  to  Sandusky, 
was  sometimes  used  by  the  same  class  of  persons.^      After 

1  Beminiscences,  pp.  317,  321. 

'  Still's  Underground  Bailroad  Becords,  p.  613. 

"  Ibid.,  p.  598.  In  the  fragment  of  a  letter  from  -whicli  Mr.  Still  quotes, 
Mr.  Douglass  says,  "They  [the  fugitives]  usually  tarry  with  us  only  during 
the  night,  and  are  forwarded  to  Canada  by  the  morning  train.  We  give  them 
supper,  lodging,  and  breakfast,  pay  their  expenses,  and  give  them  a  half-dollar 

♦  The  Firelands  Pioneer,  July,  1888,  p.  21.  6  jjjy.^  pp.  23,  57,  79. 


the  construction  of  the  Cleveland,  Columbus  and  Cincinnati 
Railroad  1  as  far  as  Greenwich  in  northern  Ohio,  fugitives 
often  came  to  that  point  concealed  in  freight-cars.  In  east- 
ern Ohio  there  were  two  additional  routes  by  rail  sometimes 
employed  in  underground  traffic :  one  of  these  appears  to 
have  been  the  Cleveland  and  Canton  from  Zanesville  north,^ 
and  the  other  was  the  Cleveland  and  Western  between 
Alliance  and  Cleveland.^  In  Indiana  the  Louisville,  New 
Albany  and  Chicago  Railroad  from  Crawfordsville  north- 
ward was  patronized  by  underground  travellers  until  the 
activity  of  slave-hunters  caused  it  to  be  abandoned.*  Fugi- 
tives were  sometimes  transported  across  the  State  of  Michi- 
gan by  the  Michigan  Central  Railroad.  In  Illinois  there  seems 
to  have  been  not  less  than  three  railroads  that  carried  fugi- 
tives:  these  were  the  Chicago,  Burlington  and  Quincy,^  the 
Chicago  and  Rock  Island  ^  and  the  Illinois  Central.^  When 
John  Brown  made  his  famous  journey  through  Iowa  in  the 
winter  of  1858-1859  he  shipped  his  company  of  twelve  fugi- 
tives in  a  stock  car  from  West  Liberty,  Iowa,  to  Chicago, 
by  way  of  the  Chicago  and  Rock  Island  route.^  In  Pennsyl- 
vania and  New  York  there  were  several  lines  over  which 
runaways  were  sent  when  circumstances  permitted.  At 
Harrisburg,  Reading  and  other  points  along  the  Philadelphia 
and  Reading  Railroad,  fugitives  were  put  aboard  the  cars 
for  Philadelphia.^     From  Pennsylvania  they  were  forwarded 

1  Ibid.1  p.  74.  The  "Three  C's"  is  now  the  Cleveland,  Cincinnati,  Chicago 
and  St.  Louis  Railroad,  or  "Big  Four  "  Route. 

2  Conversation  vyith  Thomas  Williams,  of  Pennsville,  O. ;  letter  of  H.  C. 
Harvey,  Manchester,  Kan.,  Jan.  16,  1893. 

8  Letter  of  I.  Newton  Peirce,  Folcroft,  Pa.,  Feb.  1,  1893. 

*  Letter  of  Sidney  Speed,  Crawfordsville,  Ind.,  March  6,  1896.  Mr.  Speed 
and  his  father  were  both  connected  with  the  Crawfordsville  centre. 

5  Life  and,  Poems  of  John  Howard  Bryant,  p.  30 ;  letter  of  William  H. 
Collins,  Quincy,  111.,  Jan.  13,  1896  ;  History  of  Knox  County,  Illinois,  p.  211. 

5  Letter  of  George  L.  Burroughes,  Cairo,  111.,  Jan.  6,  1896. 

'  Ibid.  ;  conversation  with  the  Rev.  R.  G.  Ramsey,  Cadiz,  0.,  Aug.  18, 1892. 

'  J.  B.  Grinnell,  Men  and  Events  of  Forty  Years,  p.  216. 

9  Smedley,  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  174, 176,  177,  365.  The  following 
letter  Is  in  point :  —  „  schutlkill,  11th  Mo.,  7th,  1857. 

William  Still,  Respected  Friend  : — There  are  three  colored  friends  at 

my  house  now,  who  will  reach  the  city  by  the  Philadelphia  and  Reading  train 

this  evening.     Please  meet  them.        rrv,ir,o  otn 

Ihme,  etc.,     j,_  j,_  Peuntpaoker." 


by  the  Vigilance  Committee  over  different  lines,  sometimes 
by  way  of  the  Pennsylvania  Railroad  to  New  York  City; 
sometimes  by  way  of  the  Philadelphia  and  Reading  and  the 
Northern  Central  to  Elmira,  New  York,  whence  they  were 
sent  on  by  the  same  line  to  Niagara  Falls.  Fugitives  put 
aboard  the  cars  at  Elmira  were  furnished  with  money  from 
a  fund  provided  by  the  anti-slavery  society.  As  a  matter  of 
precaution  they  were  sent  out  of  town  at  four  o'clock  in  the 
morning,  and  were  always  placed  by  the  train  officials,  who 
knew  their  destination,  in  the  baggage-car.i  The  New  York 
Central  Railroad  from  Rochester  west  was  an  outlet  made 
use  of  by  Frederick  Douglass  in  passing  slaves  to  Canada. 
At  Syracuse,  during  several  years  before  the  beginning  of 
the  War,  one  of  the  directors  of  this  road,  Mr.  Horace  White, 
the  father  of  Dr.  Andrew  D.  White,  distributed  passes  to  fugi- 
tives. This  fact  did  not  come  to  the  knowledge  of  Dr.  White 
until  after  his  father's  demise.  He  relates :  "  Some  years 
after  ...  I  met  an  old  '  abolitionist '  of  Syracuse,  who  said 
to  me  that  he  had  often  come  to  my  father's  house,  rattled 
at  the  windows,  informed  my  father  of  the  passes  he  needed 
for  fugitive  slaves,  received  them  through  the  window,  and 
then  departed,  nobody  else  being  the  wiser.  On  my  asking 
my  mother,  who  survived  my  father  several  years,  about  it, 
she  said :  '  Yes,  such  things  frequently  occurred,  and  your 
father,  if  he  was  satisfied  of  the  genuineness  of  the  request, 
always  wrote  off  the  passes  and  handed  them  out,  asking  no 
questions."  ^ 

In  the  New  England  states  fugitives  travelled,  under  the 
instruction  of  friends,  by  way  of  the  Providence  and  Worcester 
Railroad  from  Valley  Falls,  Rhode  Island,  to  Worcester,  Mas- 
sachusetts, where  by  arrangement  they  were  transferred  to  the 
Vermont  Road.'  The  Boston  and  Worcester  Railroad  be- 
tween Newton  and  Worcester,  Massachusetts,  as  also  between 
Boston  and  Worcester,  seems  to  have  been  used  to  some  ex- 
tent in  this  way.*     The  Grand  Trunk,  extending  from  Port- 

1  Letter  of  John  W.  Jones,  Elmira,  N.Y.,  Jan.  18,  1897. 

2  Letter  of  the  Hon.  Andrew  D.  White,  Ithaca,  N.T.,  April  10,  1897, 

8  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Buffum  Chace,  Anti-Slavery  neminiscences,  pp.  28,  38. 
*  Letter  of  William  I.  Bowditch,  Boston,  April  5,  1893.    Mr.  Bowditch 
says:  "Generally  I  passed  them  (the  fugitives)  on  to  William  Jackson,  at 


land,  Maine,  through  the  northern  parts  of  New  Hampshire 
and  Vermont  into  Canada,  occasionally  gave  passes  to  fugi- 
tives, and  would  always  take  reduced  fares  for  this  class  of 

The  advantages  of  escape  by  boat  were  early  discerned  by 
slaves  living  near  the  coast  or  along  inland  rivers.  Vessels 
engaged  in  our  coastwise  trade  became  more  or  less  involved 
in  transporting  fugitives  from  Southern  ports  to  Northern 
soil.  Small  trading  vessels,  returning  from  their  voyages  to 
Norfolk  and  Portsmouth,  Virginia,  landed  slaves  on  the  New 
England  coast.^  In  July,  1853,  the  brig  Florence  (Captain 
Amos  Hopkins,  of  Hallo  well,  !Maine)  from  Wilmington,  North 
Carolina,  was  required,  while  lying  in  Boston  harbor,  to  sur- 
render a  fugitive  found  on  board.  In  September,  1851,  the 
schooner  Sally  Ann  (of  Belfast,  Maine),  from  the  same  South- 
ern port,  was  induced  to  give  up  a  slave  known  to  be  on  board. 
In  October  of  the  same  year  the  brig  Cameo  (of  Augusta, 
Maine)  brought  a  stowaway  from  Jacksonville,  Florida,  into 
Boston  harbor,  and,  as  in  the  two  preceding  cases,  the  slave 
was  rescued  from  the  danger  of  return  to  the  South  through 
the  activity  and  shrewdness  of  Captain  Austin  Bearse,  the 
agent  of  the  Vigilance  Committee  of  Boston.^  The  son  of 
a  slaveholder  living  at  Newberne,  North  Carolina,  forwarded 
slaves  from  that  point  to  the  Vigilance  Committee  of  Phila- 
delphia on  vessels  engaged  in  the  lumber  trade.*  In  Novem- 
ber, 1855,  Captain  Fountain  brought  twenty-one  fugitives 
concealed  on  his  vessel  in  a  cargo  of  grain  from  Norfolk, 
Virginia,  to  Philadelphia.^ 

The  tributaries  flowing  into  the  Ohio  River  from  Virginia 
and  Kentucky  furnished  convenient  channels  of  escape  for 

Newton.  His  house  being  on  the  Worcester  Railroad,  he  could  easily  forward 
any  one."  Captain  Aiistin  Bearse,  Reminiscences  of  Fugitive- Slave  Law 
Days  in  Boston,  p.  .37. 

1  Letter  of  Brown  Thurston,  Portland,  Me.,  Oct.  21,  1895. 

2  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Buffum  Chace,  Anti-Slavery  Beminiscences,  pp.  27,  30. 

'  Austin  Bearse,  Beminiscences  of  Fugitive- Slave  Law  Bays  in  Boston, 
1880,  pp.  34-39. 

*  Smedley,  Underground  Bailroad,  letter  of  Robert  Purvis,  of  Philadel- 
phia, p.  335. 

s  Still,  Underground  Bailroad  Becords,  pp.  165-172.  For  other  cases,  see 
pp.  211,  379-381,  437,  558,  559-565. 


many  slaves.  The  concurrent  testimony  of  abolitionists  living 
along  the  Ohio  is  to  the  effect  that  streams  like  the  Kanawha 
River  bore  many  a  boat-load  of  fugitives  to  the  southern 
boundary  of  the  free  states.  It  is  not  a  mere  coincidence 
that  a  large  number  of  the  most  important  centres  of  activity 
lie  along  the  southern  line  of  the  Western  free  states  at  pointe 
near  or  opposite  the  mouths  of  rivers  and  creeks.  On  the 
Mississippi,  Ohio  and  Illinois  rivers  north-bound  steamboats 
not  infrequently  provided  the  means  of  escape.  Jefferson 
Davis  declared  in  the  Senate  that  many  slaves  escaped  from 
his  state  into  Ohio  by  taking  passage  on  the  boats  of  the 

Abolitionists  found  it  desirable  to  have  waterway  exten- 
sions of  their  secret  lines.  Boats,  the  captains  of  which  were 
favorable,  were  therefore  drafted  into  the  service  when  run- 
ning on  convenient  routes.  Boats  plying  between  Portland, 
Maine,  and  St.  John,  New  Brunswick,  or  other  Canadian 
ports,  often  took  these  passengers  free  of  charge.^  Thomas 
Garrett,  of  Wilmington,  Delaware,  sometimes  sent  negroes  by 
steamboat  to  Philadelphia  to  be  cared  for  by  the  Vigilance 
Committee.^  It  happened  on  several  occasions  that  fugitives 
at  Portland  and  Boston  were  put  aboard  ocean  steamers  bound 
for  England.*  William  and  Ellen  Craft  were  sent  to  England 
after  having  narrowly  escaped  capture  in  Boston.^ 

On  the  great  lakes  the  boat  service  was  extensive.  The 
boats  of  General  Reed  touching  at  Racine,  Wisconsin,  received 
fugitives  without  fare.  Among  these  were  the  Sultana  (Cap- 
tain Appleby),  the  Madison,  the  Missouri,  the  Niagara  and 
the  Keystone  State.  Captain  Steele  of  the  propeller  Galena 
was  a  friend  of  fugitives,  as  was  also  Captain  Kelsey  of  the 
Qhesapealce.      Mr.  A.  P.  Dutton  was    familiar  with    these 

1  See  p.  312,  Chapter  X. 

2  Letters  of  Brown  Thurston,  Portland,  Me.,  Jan.  13, 1893,  and  Oct.  21, 

'  For  letters  from  Mr.  Garrett  to  William  Still,  of  the  Acting  Committee 
of  "Vigilance  of  Philadelphia,  notifying  him  that  fugitives  had  been  sent  hy 
boat,  see  Still's  Underground  Sailroad  Becords,  pp.  380,  387. 

*  Letter  of  S.  T.  Pickard,  Portland,  Me.,  Nov.  18,  1893. 

s  Still,  Underground  Bailroad  Becords,  p.  368  ;  Wilson,  Bise  and  Fall  of 
the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  II,  p.  325 ;  New  England  Magazine,  January,  1890< 
p.  580. 


vessels  and  their  oflScers,  and  for  twenty  years  or  more 
shipped  runaway  slaves  as  well  as  cargoes  of  grain  from 
his  dock  in  Racine.^  The  Illinois  (Captain  Blake),  running 
between  Chicago  and  Detroit,  was  a  safe  boat  on  which  to 
place  passengers  whose  destination  was  Canada.^  John  G. 
Weiblen  navigated  the  lakes  in  1855  and  1856,  and  took 
many  refugees  from  Chicago  to  CoUingwood,  Ontario.^  The 
Arrow,^  the  United  States,^  the  Bay  City  and  the  Mayflower 
plying  between  Sandusky  and  Detroit,  were  boats  the  officers 
of  which  were  always  willing  to  help  negroes  reach  Canadian 
ports.  The  Forest  Queen,  the  Morning  Star  and  the  May 
Queen,  running  between  Cleveland  and  Detroit,  the  Phoebus, 
a  little  boat  plying  between  Toledo  and  Detroit,  and,  finally, 
some  scows  and  sail-boats,  are  among  the  old  craft  of  the 
great  lakes  that  carried  many  slaves  to  their  land  of  promise.^ 
A  clue  to  the  number  of  refugees  thus  transported  to  Canada 
is  perhaps  given  by  the  record  of  the  boat  upon  which  the 
fugitive,  William  Wells  Brown,  found  employment.  This  boat 
ran  from  Cleveland  to  Buffalo  and  to  Detroit.  It  quickly 
became  known  at  Cleveland  that  Mr.  Brown  would  take 
escaped  slaves  under  his  protection  without  charge,  hence  he 
rarely  failed  to  find  a  little  company  ready  to  sail  when  he 
started  out  from  Cleveland.  "  In  the  year  1842,"  he  says, 
"  I  conveyed,  from  the  first  of  May  to  the  first  of  December, 
sixty-nine  fugitives  over  Lake  Erie  to  Canada."  ^ 

The  account  of  the  method  of  the  Underground  Railroad 
could  scarcely  be  called  complete  without  some  notice  of  the 
rescue  of  fugitives  under  arrest.  The  first  rescue  occurred 
at  the  intended  trial  of  the  first  fugitive  slave  case  in  Boston 
in  1793.    Mr.  Josiah  Quincy,  counsel  for  the  fugitive,  "  heard 

1  Letter  of  A.  P.  Button,  of  Racine,  Wis.,  April  7,  1896.  As  a  shipper  of 
grain  and  an  abolitionist  for  twenty  years  in  Racine,  Mr.  Button  was  able  to 
turn  his  dock  into  a  place  of  deportation  for  runaway  slaves. 

2  A.  J.  Andreas,  History  of  Chicago,  Vol.  I,  p.  606. 

«  Letter  of  Mr.  Weiblen,  Fairview,  Erie  Co.,  Pa.,  Nov.  26,  1895. 

«  The  Firelands  Pioneer,  July,  1888,  p.  46. 

'  Ihid.,  p.  50. 

•  The  names  of  the  last  six  boats  given,  as  well  as  several  of  the  others, 
were  obtained  from  freedmen  in  Canada,  who  keep  them  in  grateful  remem- 

'  Narrative  of  William  W.  Brown,  by  himself,  1848,  pp.  107,  108. 


a  noise,  and,  turning  around,  saw  the  constables  lying  sprawl- 
ing on  the  floor,  and  a  passage  opening  through  the  crowd, 
through  which  the  fugitive  was  taking  his  departure  without 
stopping  to  hear  the  opinion  of  the  court."  ^ 

The  prototype  of  deliverances  thus  established  was,  it  is 
true,  more  or  less  deviated  from  in  later  instances,  but  the 
general  characteristics  of  these  cases  are  such  that  they 
naturally  fall  into  one  class.  They  are  cases  in  which  the 
execution  of  the  law  was  interfered  with  by  friends  of  the 
prisoner,  who  was  spirited  away  as  quickly  as  possible.  The 
deliverance  in  1812  of  a  supposed  runaway  from  the  hands  of 
his  captor  by  the  New  England  settlers  of  Worthington,  Ohio, 
has  already  been  referred  to  in  general  terms. ^  But  some 
details  of  the  incident  are  necessary  to  bring  out  more  clearly 
the  propriety  of  its  being  included  in  the  category  of  instances 
of  violation  of  the  constitutional  provision  for  the  rendition 
of  escaped  slaves.  It  appears  that  word  was  brought  to  the 
village  of  Worthington  of  the  capture  of  the  fugitive  at  a 
neighboring  town,  and  that  the  villagers  under  the  direction 
of  Colonel  James  Kilbourne  took  immediate  steps  to  release 
the  negro,  who,  it  was  said,  was  tied  with  ropes,  and  being 
afoot,  was  compelled  to  keep  up  as  best  he  could  with  his 
master's  horse.  On  the  arrival  of  the  slave-owner  and  his 
chattel,  the  latter  was  freed  from  his  bonds  by  the  use  of  a 
butcher-knife  in  the  hands  of  an  active  villager,  and  the 
forms  of  a  legal  dismissal  were  gone  through  before  a  court 
and  an  audience  whose  convictions  were  ruinous  to  any 
representations  the  claimant  was  able  to  make.  The  dis- 
possessed master  was  permitted  to  continue  his  journey 
southward,  while  the  negro  was  directed  to  get  aboard  a 
government  wagon  on  its  way  northward  to  Sandusky.  The 
return  of  the  slave-hunter  a  day  or  two  later  with  a  process 
obtained  in  Franklinton,  authorizing  the  retaking  of  his 
property,  secured  him  a  second  hearing,  but  did  not  change 
the  result.  A  fugitive,  Basil  Dorsey,  from  Liberty,  Frederick 
County,  Maryland,  was  seized  in  Bucks   Count}--,   Pennsyl- 

1  Mr.  Quinoy's  report  of  the  case,  quoted  by  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive 
Slaves,  p.  35. 

2  See  p.  38. 


vania,  in  1836,  and  carried  away.  Overtaken  by  Mr.  Robert 
Purvis  at  Doylestown,  be  was  brought  into  court,  and  the 
hearing  of  the  case  was  postponed  for  two  weeks.  When  the 
day  of  trial  came  the  counsel  for  the  slave  succeeded  in 
getting  the  case  dismissed  on  the  ground  of  certain  ob- 
jections. Thereupon  the  claimants  of  the  slave  hastened 
to  a  magistrate  for  a  new  warrant,  but  just  as  they  were 
returning  to  rearrest  the  fugitive,  he  was  hustled  into 
the  buggy  of  Mr.  Purvis  and  driven  rapidly  out  of  the 
reach  of  the  pursuers.^  ^In  October,  1853,  the  case  of  Louis, 
a  fugitive  from  Kentucky  on  trial  in  Cincinnati,  was  brought 
to  a  conchision  in  an  unexpected  way.  The  United  States 
commissioner  was  about  to  pronounce  judgment  when  the 
prisoner,  taking  advantage  of  a  favorable  opportunity,  slipped 
from  his  chair,  had  a  good  hat  placed  upon  his  head  by  some 
friend,  passed  out  of  the  court-room  among  a  crowd  of  colored 
visitors  and  made  his  way  cautiously  to  Avondale.  A  few 
minutes  after  the  disappearance  of  the  fugitive  his  absence 
was  discovered  by  the  marshal  that  had  him  in  charge ;  and 
although  careful  search  was  made  for  him,  he  escaped  to 
Canada  by  means  of  the  Underground  Railroad.^  /In  April, 
1859,  Charles  Nalle,  a  slave  from  Culpeper  County,  Vir- 
ginia, was  discovered  in  Troy,  New  York,  and  taken  before 
the  United  States  commissioner,  who  remanded  him  back  to 
slavery.  As  the  news  of  this  decision  spread,  a  crowd 
gathered  about  the  commissioner's  office.  In  the  meantime, 
a  writ  of  habeas  corpus  was  served  upon  the  marshal  that  had 
arrested  Nalle,  commanding  that  officer  to  bring  the  prisoner 
before  a  judge  of  the  Supreme  Court.  When  the  marshal 
and  his  deputies  appeared  with  the  slave,  the  crowd  made  a 
charge  upon  them,  and  a  hand-to-hand  melee  resulted.  Inch 
by  inch  the  progress  of  the  officers  was  resisted  until  they 
were  worn  out,  and  the  slave  escaped.  In  haste  the  fugitive 
was  ferried  across  the  river  to  West  Troy,  only  to  fall  into 
the  hands  of  a  constable  and  be  again  taken  into  custody. 
The  mob  had  followed,  however,  and  now  stormed  the  door 
behind  which  the  prisoner  rested  under  guard.    In  the  attack 

^  Smedley,  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  356-361. 
2  Levi  Coffin,  JSeminiscences,  pp.  548-554. 


the  door  was  forced  open,  and  over  the  body  of  a  negro  assail- 
ant, struck  down  in  the  fray,  the  slave  was  torn  from  his 
guards,  and  sent  on  his  way  to  Canada.^  Well-known  cases 
of  rescue,  such  as  the  Shadrach  case,  which  occurred  in  Bos- 
ton in  January,  1851,  and  the  Jerry  rescue,  which  occurred 
in  Syracuse  nine  months  later,  may  be  omitted  here.  They, 
like  many  others  that  have  been  less  often  chronicled,  show 
clearly  the  temper  of  resolute  men  in  the  communities  where 
they  occurred.  It  was  felt  by  these  persons  that  the  slave, 
who  had  already  paid  too  high  a  penalty  for  his  color,  could 
not  expect  justice  at  the  hands  of  the  law,  that  his  liberty 
must  be  preserved  to  him,  and  a  base  statute  be  thwarted  at 
any  cost. 

1  This  account  is  condensed  from  a  report  given  in  the  Troy  Whig,  April 
28,  1859,  and  printed  in  the  book  entitled,  Harriet  the  Moses  of  Her  People, 
pp.  143-149. 

y-^'U-7^5  %r-f,tl 

i  ^ 

'  /y  r    p^ 

/7y-y  ^f^Ti 

Mr.  Coffin  and  his  wife  aided  more  than  3000  slaves  in  their  flight. 



Persons  opposed  to  slavery  were,  naturally,  the  friends  of 
the  fugitive  slave,  and  were  ever  ready  to  respond  to  his 
appeals  for  help.  Shelter  and  food  were  readily  suppKed 
him,  and  he  was  directed  or  conveyed,  generally  in  the  night, 
to  sympathizing  neighbors,  until  finally,  without  any  fore- 
thought or  management  on  his  own  part,  he  found  himself  in 
Canada  a  free  man.  V  These  helpers,  in  the  course  of  time, 
came  to  be  called  agents,  station-keepers,  or  conductors  on  the 
Underground  Railroad.  Of  the  names  of  those  that  belonged 
to  this  class  of  practical  emancipationists,  3,211  have  been 
catalogued  ;i  change  of  residence  and  death  have  made  it 
impossible  to  obtain  the  names  of  many  more.  T  Considering 
the  kind  of  labor  performed  and  the  danger  involved,  one  is 
impressed  with  the  unselfish  devotion  to  principle  of  these 
emancipators.  There  was  for  them,  of  course,  no  outward 
honor,  no  material  recompense,  but  instead  such  contumely 
and  seeming  disgrace  as  can  now  be  scarcely  comprehended. 

Nevertheless,  they  were  rich  in  courage,  and  their  hospital- 
ity was  equal  to  all  emergencies.  They  gladly  gave  aid  and 
comfort  to  every  negro  seeking  freedom ;  and  the  numbers 
befriended  by  many  helpers  despite  penalties  and  abuse  show 
with  what  moral  determination  the  work  was  carried  on.  \  It 
has  been  said  that  the  Hopkins,  Salsbury,  Snediger,  Dickey 
and  Kirkpatrick  families,  of  southern  Ohio,  forwarded  more 
than  1,000  fugitives  to  Canada  before  the  year  1817.^  Daniel 
Gibbons,  of  Lancaster  County,  Pennsylvania,  was  engaged 
in  helping  fugitive  slaves  during  a  period  of  fifty-six  years. 
"He  did  not  keep  a  record  of  the  number  he  passed  until  1824. 

1  See  Appendix  E,  pp.  405-439. 

*  William  Bimey,  James  G.  Birney  and  His  Times,  p.  436. 


But  prior  to  that  time,  it  was  supposed  to  have  been  over  200, 
and  up  to  the  time  of  his  death  (in  1853)  he  had  aided  about 
1,000."  1  It  has  been  estimated  that  Dr.  Nathan  M.  Thomas,  of 
Schoolcraft,  Michigan,  forwarded  between  1,000  and  1,500  f  ugi- 
tives.2  John  Fairfield,  the  abductor,  "  piloted  not  only  hun- 
dreds, but  thousands."  ^  The  Rev.  Charles  T.  Torrey  went  to 
Maryland  and  "  from  there  sent — as  he  wrote  previous  to  1844 
—  some  400  slaves  over  different  routes  to  Canada."  *  PhUo 
Carpenter,  of  Chicago,  is  reported  to  have  escorted  200  fugi- 
tives to  vessels  bound  for  Canada.®  In  a  letter  to  William 
Still,  in  November,  1857,  Elijah  F.  Pennypacker,  of  Chester 
County,  Pennsylvania,  writes,  "  we  have  within  the  past  two 
months  passed  forty-three  through  our  hands."  ^  H.  B.  Leeper, 
of  Princeton,  Illinois,  says  that  the  most  successful  business 
he  ever  accomplished  in  this  line  was  the  helping  on  of  thirty- 
one  men  and  women  in  six  weeks'  time.''  Leverett  B.  Hill, 
of  Wakeman,  Ohio,  assisted  103  on  their  way  to  Canada 
during  the  year  1852.*  Mr.  Van  Dorn,  of  Quincy,  in  a  service 
of  twenty-five  years,  assisted  "some  two  or  three  hundred 
fugitives."®  W.  D.  Schooley,  of  Richmond,  Indiana,  writes, 
"I  think  I  must  have  assisted  over  100  on  their  way  to 
liberty."  1°  Jonathan  H.  Gray,  Milton  Hill  and  John  H. 
Frazee  were  conductors  at  Carthage,  Indiana,  and  are  said  to 
have  helped  over  150  fugitives.-'^  "  Thousands  of  fugitives 
found  rest"  at  Ripley,  Brown  County,  Ohio.^  During  the 
lifetime  of  General  Mclntire,  a  Virginian,  who  settled  in 
Adams  County,  Ohio,  "more  than  100  slaves  found  a  safe 
retreat  under  his  roof."     Other  helpers  in   the   same  state 

1  Smedley,  Underground  Railroad,  p.  56. 

2  Letter  of  Mrs.  Pamela  S.  Thomas,  Schoolcraft,  Mich.,  March  25,  1896. 
2  Letter  of  Mrs.  Laura  S.  Haviland,  Englewood,  111.,  June  5,  1893. 

<  Letter  of  M.  M.  Fisher,  Medway,  Mass.,  Oct.  23,  1893. 

5  E.  G.  Mason,  Early  Chicago  and  Illinois,  1890,  p.  110. 

8  Letter  of  Sarah  C.  Pennypacker,  Schuylkill,  Pa.,  June  8,  1896. 

'  Letter  of  H.  B.  Leeper,  Princeton,  111.,  Dec.  19,  1895. 

"  Letter  of  E.  S.  Hill,  Atlantic,  la.,  Oct.  30,  1894. 

^  Wilson,  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  II,  p.  67. 
1"  Letter  of  W.  D.  Schooley,  Nov.  15,  1893. 
1^  Letter  of  James  H.  Frazee,  Milton,  Ind.,  Feb.  3,  1894. 
^  Henry  Howe,  Historical  Collections  of  Ohio,  Vol.  I,  p.  335.    See  also 
History  of  Brown  County,  Ohio,  p.  443. 


rendered  service  deserving  of  mention.  Ozem  Gardner,  of 
Sharon  Township,  Franklin  County,  "  assisted  more  than  200 
fugitives  on  their  way  in  all  weathers  and  at  all  times  of  the 
day  and  night."  ^  It  is  estimated  by  a  friend  of  Dr.  J.  A. 
Bingham  and  George  J.  Payne,  two  operators  of  Gallia 
County,  that  the  line  of  escape  with  which  these  men  were 
connected  was  travelled  by  about  200  slaves  every  year  from 
1845  to  1856.2  From  1844  to  1860  John  H.  Stewart,  a  col- 
ored station-keeper  of  the  same  county,  kept  about  100  fugi- 
tives at  his  house.3  Five  hundred  are  said  to  have  passed 
through  the  hands  of  Thomas  L.  Gray,  of  Deavertown,  in  Mor- 
gan County.*  Ex-President  Fairchild  speaks  of  the  "  multi- 
tudes "  of  fugitives  that  came  to  Oberlin,  and  says  that  "  not 
one  was  ever  finally  taken  back  to  bondage."  ^  Many  other 
stations  and  station-agents  that  were  instrumental  in  helping 
large  numbers  of  slaves  from  bondage  to  freedom  cannot  be 
mentioned  here. 

Reticent  as  most  underground  operators  were  at  the  time 
in  regard  to  their  unlawful  acts,  they  did  not  attempt  to  con- 
ceal their  principles.  On  the  contrary,  they  were  zealous  in 
their  endeavors  to  make  converts  to  a  doctrine  that  seemed 
to  them  to  have  the  combined  warrant  of  Scripture  and  of 
their  own  conscience,  and  that  agreed  with  the  convictions 
of  the  fathers  of  the  Republic.  The  Golden  Rule  and  the 
preamble  of  the  Declaration  of  Independence  they  often  re- 
cited in  support  of  their  position.  When  they  had  trans- 
gressed the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  Congress  they  were  wont 
to  find  their  justification  in  what  ex-President  Fairchild  of 
Oberlin  has  aptly  called  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  the  Mo- 
saic institutions :  ®  "  Thou  shalt  not  deliver  unto  his  master 
the  servant  which  hath  escaped  unto  thee ;  he  shall  dwell 
with  thee,  even  among  you,  in  that  place  which  he  shall 

^  History  of  Franklin  and  Pickaway  Counties,  Ohio,  p.  424. 

2  Letter  of  Dr.  N.  B.  Sisson,  Porter,  Gallia  Co.,  O.,  Sept.  16,  1894. 

«  Letter  of  Gabe  N.  Johnson,  Ironton,  O.,  November,  1894. 

*  Article  in  the  New  Lexington  (0.)  Tribune,  signed  "  W.  A.  D.,"  fall  of 
1885  ;  exact  date  unknown. 

'  Henry  Howe,  Historical  Collections  of  Ohio,  Vol.  11,  p.  380. 

«  Fairchild,  The  Underground  Bailroad,  Vol.  IV;  Tract  No.  87,  Western 
Eeserve  Historical  Society,  p.  97. 


choose  in  one  of  thy  gates  where  it  liketh  him  best;  thou 
shalt  not  oppress  him."i  They  refused  to  observe  a  law  that 
made  it  a  felony  in  their  opinion  to  give  a  cup  of  cold  water 
to  famishing  men  and  women  fleeing  from  servitude.  Their 
faith  and  determination  is  clearly  expressed  in  one  of  the 
old  anti-slavery  songs :  — 

"  'Tis  the  law  of  God  in  the  human  soul, 

'Tis  the  law  in  the  Word  Divine ; 
It  shall  live  while  the  earth  in  its  course  shall  roU, 

It  shall  live  in  this  soul  of  mine. 
Let  the  law  of  the  land  forge  its  bonds  of  wrong, 

I  shall  help  when  the  self-freed  crave ; 
For  the  law  in  my  soul,  bright,  beaming,  and  strong, 

Bids  me  succor  the  fleeing  slave." 

Theodore  Parker  was  but  the  mouthpiece  of  many  abolition- 
ists throughout  the  Northern  states  when  he  said,  at  the  con- 
clusion of  a  sermon  in  1850 :  "  It  is  known  to  you  that  the 
Fugitive  Slave  Bill  has  become  a  law.  ...  To  law  framed 
of  such  iniquity  I  owe  no  allegiance.  Humanity,  Christianity, 
manhood  revolts  against  it.  .  .  .  For  myself  I  say  it  solemnly, 
I  will  shelter,  I  will  help,  and  I  will  defend  the  fugitive  with 
all  my  humble  means  and  power.  I  will  act  with  any  body 
of  decent  and  serious  men,  as  the  head,  or  the  foot,  or  the 
hand,  in  any  mode  not  involving  the  use  of  deadly  weapons, 
to  nullify  and  defeat  the  operation  of  this  law.  .  .  ."  ^ 

Sentiments  of  this  kind  were  cherished  in  almost  every 
Northern  community  by  a  few  persons  at  least.  There  were 
some  New  England  colonies  in  the  West  where  anti-slavery 
sentiments  predominated.  These,  like  some  of  the  religious 
communities,  as  those  of  the  Quakers  and  Covenanters,  became 
well-known  centres  of  underground  activity.  In  general  it 
is  safe  to  say  that  the  majority  of  helpers  in  the  North  were 
of  Anglo-American  stock,  descendants  of  the  Puritan  and 
Quaker  settlers  of  the  Eastern  states,  or  of  Southerners  that 
had  moved  to  the  Northern  states  to  be  rid  of  slavery.     The 

1  Deut.  xxiii,  15,  16. 

2  Delivered  in  Melodeon  Hall,  Boston,  Oct.  6,  1850.  The  Chronotype, 
Oct.  7,  1850.  See  Vol.  II,  No.  2,  of  the  Scrap-booh  relating  to  Theodore 
Parker,  compiled  by  Miss  C.  C.  Thayer,  Boston  Public  Library. 


many  stations  in  the  eastern  and  northern  parts  of  Ohio  and  the 
northern  part  of  Illinois  may  be  safely  attributed  to  the  large 
proportion  of  New  England  settlers  in  those  districts.  Locali- 
ties where  the  work  of  befriending  slaves  was  largely  in  the 
hands  of  Quakers  will  be  mentioned  in  another  connection. 
Southern  settlers  in  Brown  County  and  adjoining  districts  in 
Ohio  are  said  to  have  been  regularly  forwarding  escaped  slaves 
to  Canada  before  1817.^  The  emigration  of  a  number  of  these 
settlers  to  Bond  County,  Illinois,  about  1820,  and  the  removal 
of  a  few  families  from  that  region  to  Putnam  County  in  the 
same  state  about  a  decade  later,  helps  to  explain  the  early 
development  of  secret  routes  in  the  southern  and  north  central 
parts  of  Illinois.^ 

In  the  South  much  secret  aid  was  rendered  fugitives,  no 
doubt,  by  persons  of  their  own  race.  Two  colored  market- 
women  in  Baltimore  were  efficient  agents  for  the  VigQance 
Committee  of  Philadelphia.^  Frederick  Douglass's  connec- 
tion with  the  Underground  Railroad  began  long  before  he 
left  the  South.*  In  the  North,  people  of  the  African  race 
were  to  be  found  in  most  communities,  and  in  many  places 
they  became  energetic  workers.  Negro  settlements  in  the 
interior  of  the  free  states,  as  well  as  along  their  southern 
frontier,  soon  came  to  form  important  links  in  the  chain  of 
stations  leading  from  the  Southern  states  to  Canada. 

In  the  early  days  running  slaves  sometimes  sought  and 
received  aid  from  Indians.  This  fact  is  evidenced  by  the 
introduction  of  fugitive  recovery  clauses  into  a  number 
of  the  treaties  made  between  the  colonies  and  Indian  tribes. 
Seven  out  of  the  eight  treaties  made  between  1784  and  1786 
contained  clauses  for  the  return  of  black  prisoners,  or  of 
"negroes  and  other  property."*  A  few  of  the  colonies 
offered  rewards  to  induce  Indians  to  apprehend  and  restore 
runaways.    In  1669  Maryland  "  ordered  that  any  Indian  who 

1  William  Bimey,  James  &.  Birney  and  His  Times,  p.  435. 
^  Letter  of  H.  B.  Leeper,  Princeton,  111.,  Dec.  19,  1895. 
'  Smedley,  Underground,  Bailroad,  p.  355. 

*  Letter  of  Prederick  Douglass,  Cedar  Hill,  Anaoostia,  D.C.,  March  27, 
1893.    Mr.  Douglass  escaped  from  slavery  in  1839. 
'  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  pp.  13,  104,  105. 


shall  apprehend  a  fugitive  may  have  a  '  match  coate '  or  its 
value.  Virginia  would  give  '  20  armes  length  of  Roauake,' 
or  its  value,  while  in  Connecticut  '  two  yards  of  cloth  '  was 
considered  sufficient  inducement."  ^  The  inhabitants  of  the 
Ottawa  village  of  Chief  Kinjeino  in  northwestern  Ohio  were 
kindly  disposed  towards  the  fugitive ;  ^  and  the  people  of 
Chief  Brant,  who  held  an  estate  on  the  Grand  River  in 
Ontario  west  of  Niagara  Falls,  were  in  the  habit  of  receiving 
colored  refugees.^ 

The  people  of  Scotch  and  Scotch-Irish  descent  were 
naturally  liberty  loving,  and  seem  to  have  given  hearty 
support  to  the  anti-slavery  cause  in  whatever  form  it  pre- 
sented itself  to  them.  The  small  number  of  Scotch  commu- 
nities in  Morgan  and  Logan  counties,  Ohio,  and  in  Randolph 
and  Washington  counties,  Illinois,  were  centres  of  under- 
ground service. 

The  secret  work  of  the  English,  Irish  and  German  set- 
tlers cannot  be  so  readily  localized.  In  various  places  a 
single  German,  Irishman,  or  Englishman  is  known  to  have 
aided  escaped  slaves  in  cooperation  with  a  few  other  per- 
sons of  different  nationality,  but  so  far  as  known  there 
were  no  groups  made  up  of  representatives  of  one  or  another 
of  these  races  engaged  in  such  enterprises.  At  Toledo, 
Ohio,  the  company  of  helpers  comprised  Congressman  James 
M.  Ashley,  a  Pennsylvanian  by  birth;  Richard  Mott,  a 
Quaker;  James  Conlisk,  an  Irishman;  William  H.  Merritt, 
a  negro ;  and  several  others.*  Lyman  Goodnow,  an  operator 
of  Waukesha,  Wisconsin,  says  he  was  told  that  "in  cases 
of  emergency  the  Germans  were  next  best  to  Quakers 
for  protection."^  Two  German  companies  from  Massachu- 
setts enlisted  for  the  War  only  when  promised  that  they 
should  not  be  required  to  restore  runaways  to  their  owners.^ 

1  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  pp.  7,  8,  and  the  references  there 

2  Letter  of  Colonel  D.  W.  H.  Howard,  Wauseon,  0.,  Aug.  22,  1894. 
s  See  Chapter  VII,  p.  203. 

*  Conversation  with  the  Hon.  James  M.  Ashley,  Toledo,  O.,  August,  1894. 
^  Narrative  of  Lyman  Goodnow  in  History  of  Waukesha  County,  Wiscon- 
sin, p.  462. 

6  See  p.  355,  Chapter  XI. 

CHUECH  CONNECTION  OF  AGENTS      r        93 

Some  religious  communities  and  phurch  societies  were  con- 
servators of  abolition  ideas.  The  Quakers  deserve,  in  this 
work,  to  be  placed  before  all  other  denominations  because  of 
their  general  acceptance  and  advocacy  of  anti-slavery  doc- 
trines when  the  system  of  slavery  had  no  other  opponents. 
From  the  time  of  George  Fox  until  the  last  traces  of  the 
evil  were  swept  from  the  English-speaking  world  many 
Quakers  bore  a  steadfast  testimony  against  it.^  Fox  re- 
minded slaveholders  that  if  they  were  in  their  slaves' 
places  they  would  consider  it  "very  great  bondage  and 
cruelty,"  and  he  urged  upon  the  Friends  in  America  to 
preach  the  gospel  to  the  enslaved  blacks.  In  1688  German 
Friends  at  Germantown,  Pennsylvania,  made  an  official  pro- 
test "  against  the  traffic  in  the  bodies  of  men  and  the  treat- 
ment of  men  as  cattle."  By  1772  New  England  Friends 
began  to  disown  (expel)  members  for  failing  to  manumit 
their  slaves ;  and  four  years  later  both  the  Philadelphia  and 
the  New  York  yearly  meetings  made  slaveholding  a  disown- 
able  offence.  A  similar  step  was  taken  by  the  Baltimore 
Yearly  Meeting  in  1777;  and  meetings  in  Virginia  were 
directed,  in  1784,  to  disown  those  that  refused  to  emancipate 
their  slaves.^  Owing  to  obstacles  in  the  way  of  setting 
slaves  free  in  North  Carolina,  a  committee  of  Quakers  of 
that  state  was  appointed  in  1822  to  examine  the  laws  of 
some  of  the  free  states  respecting  the  admission  of  people 
of  color  therein.  In  1823  the  committee  reported  that  there 
was  "nothing  in  the  laws  of  Ohio,  Indiana,  and  Illinois  to 
prevent  the  introduction  of  people  of  color  into  those  states, 
and  agents  were  instructed  to  remove  «slaves  placed  in  their 
care  as  fast  as  they  were  willing  to  go."  These  facts  show 
the  sentiment  that  prevailed  in  the  Society  of  Friends. 
Many  Southern  Quakers  moved  to  the  North  on  account  of 
their  hatred  of  slavery,  and  established  such  important 
centres  of  underground  work  as  Springboro  and  Salem,  Ohio, 
and  Spiceland  and  New  Garden,  Indiana.     Quakers  in  New 

1  S.  B.  Weeks,  Southern  Quakers  and  Slavery,  p.  198. 

'^American  Church  History,  Vol.  XII;  see  article  on  "The  Society  of 
Friends,"  by  Professor  A.  C.  Thomas,  pp.  242-248 ;  also  Weeks,  Southern 
Quakers  and  Slavery,  pp.  198-219. 


Bedford  and  Lynn,  Massachusetts,  and  Valley  Falls,  Rhode 
Island,  engaged  in  the  service.  The  same  class  of  people  in 
Maryland  cooperated  with  members  of  their  society  in  the 
vicinity  of  Philadelphia.  The  existence  of  numerous  Under- 
ground Railroad  centres  in  southeastern  Pennsylvania  and  in 
eastern  Indiana  is  explained  by  the  fact  that  a  large  number 
of  Quakers  dwelt  in  those  regions. 

The  Methodists  began  to  take  action  against  slavery  in 
1780.  At  an  informal  conference  held  at  Baltimore  in  that 
year  the  subject  was  presented  in  the  form  of  a  "  Question,  — 
Ought  not  this  conference  to  require  those  travelling  preach- 
ers who  hold  slaves  to  give  promises  to  set  them  free  ?  "  The 
answer  given  was  in  the  affirmative.  Concerning  the  mem- 
bership the  language  adopted  was  as  follows :  "  We  pass  our 
disapprobation  on  all  our  friends  who  keep  slaves ;  and  ad- 
vise their  freedom."  Under  the  influence  of  Wesleyan 
preachers,  it  is  said,  not  a  few  cases  of  emancipation  occurred. 
At  a  conference  in  1785,  however,  it  was  decided  to  "suspend 
the  execution  of  the  minute  on  slavery  till  the  deliberations  of 
a  future  conference.  .  .  ."  Four  years  later  a  clause  ap- 
peared in  the  Discipline,  by  whose  authority  is  not  known, 
prohibiting  "The  buying  or  selling  the  bodies  or  souls  of 
men,  women,  or  children,  with  an  intention  to  enslave  them." 
This  provision  evidently  referred  to  the  African  slave-trade. 
In  1816  the  General  Conference  adopted  a  resolution  that 
"no  slaveholder  shall  be  eligible  to  any  official  station  in 
our  Church  hereafter,  where  the  laws  of  the  state  in  which 
he  lives  will  admit  of  emancipation,  and  permit  the  liberated 
slave  to  enjoy  freedom."  Later  there  seems  to  have  been  a 
disposition  on  the  part  of  the  church  authorities  to  suppress 
the  agitation  of  the  slavery  question,  but  it  can  scarcely  be 
doubted  that  the  well-known  views  of  the  Wesleys  and  of 
Whitfield  remained  for  some  at  least  the  standard  of  right 
opinion,  and  that  their  declarations  formed  for  these  the  rule 
of  action.  In  1842  a  secession  from  the  church  took  place, 
chiefly  if  not  altogether  on  account  of  the  question  of  slavery, 
and  a  number  of  abolitionist  members  of  the  uncompromising 
type  founded  a  new  church  organization,  which  they  called 
the  "  Wesleyan  Methodist  Connection  of  America."     Slave- 


holders  were  excluded  from  fellowship  in  this  body.  Within 
two  or  three  years  the  new  organization  had  drawn  away 
twenty  thousand  members  from  the  old.^  In  1844  a  much 
larger  secession  took  place  on  the  same  question,  the  occa- 
sion being  the  institution  of  proceedings  before  the  General 
Conference  against  the  Rev.  James  O.  Andrew,  D.D.,  a  slave- 
holding  bishop  of  the  South.  This  so  aggravated  the  Metho- 
dist Episcopal  societies  in  the  slave  states  that  they  withdrew 
and  formed  the  Methodist  Episcopal  Church  South.  Among 
the  members  of  the  Wesleyan  Methodist  Connection  and  of 
the  older  society  of  the  North  there  were  a  number  of  zealous 
underground  operators.  Indeed,  it  came  to  be  said  of  the 
Wesleyans,  as  of  the  Quakers,  that  almost  every  neighbor- 
hood where  a  few  of  them  lived  was  likely  to  be  a  station  of  the 
secret  Road  to  Canada.  It  is  probable  that  some  of  the  Wes- 
leyans at  Wilmington,  Ohio,  cooperated  vidth  Quakers  at  that 
point.  In  Urbana,  Ohio,  there  were  Methodists  of  the  two 
divisions  engaged.^  Service  was  also  performed  by  Wesley- 
ans at  Tippecanoe,  Deersville  and  Rocky  Fort  in  Tuscarawas 
County,^  and  at  Piqua,  Miami  County,  Ohio.*  In  Iowa  a 
number  of  Methodist  ministers  were  engaged  in  the  work.* 

The  third  sect  to  which  a  considerable  proportion  of  under- 
ground operators  belonged  was  Calvinistic  in  its  creed.  All 
the  various  wings  of  Presbyterianism  seem  to  have  had  repre- 
sentatives in  this  class  of  anti-slavery  people.  The  sinfulness 
of  slavery  was  a  proposition  that  found  uncompromising  ad- 
vocates among  the  Presbjrterian  ministers  of  the  South  in  the 
early  part  of  this  century.  In  1804  the  Rev.  James  Gilliland 
removed  from  South  Carolina  to  Brown  County,  Ohio,  be- 
cause he  had  been  enjoined  by  his  presbytery  and  synod  "  to 
be  silent  in  the  pulpit  on  the  subject  of  the  emancipation  of 
the  African."  ^   ''Other  ministers  of  prominence,  like  Thomas 

1  H.  N.  McTyeire,  D.D.,  History  of  Methodism,  1887,  pp.  375,  536,601,  611. 

2  Conversation  with  Major  J.  C.  Brand,  Urbana,  0.,  Aug.  13,  1894. 

»  Conversation  with  Thomas  M.  Hazlett,  Freeport,  Harrison  Co.,  0., 
Aug.  18,  1895. 

*  Conversation  with  Mrs.  Mary  B.  Carson,  Piqua,  O.,  Aug.  30,  1895. 

5  Letter  of  Professor  F.  L.  Parker,  Grinnell,  la.,  Sept.  30,  1894. 

6  Wm.  B.  Sprague,  D.D.,  Annals  of  the  American  Pulpit,  "Vol.  IV,  1858, 
p.  137  ;  Rohert  E.  Thompson,  D.D.,  History  of  the  Presbyterian  Churches  in 
the  United  States,  1895,  p.  122. 


D.  Baird,  David  Nelson  and  John  Rankin,  left  the  South  be- 
cause they  were  not  free  to  speak  against  slavery., ,  In  1818  the 
Presbyterian  Church  declared  the  system  "  inconsistent  with 
the  law  of  God  and  totally  irreconcilable  with  the  gospel  of 
Christ."  This  teaching  was  afterwards  departed  from  in  1845 
when  the  Assembly  confined  its  protest  to  admitting  rather 
mildly  that  there  was  "  evil  connected  with  slavery,"  and  de- 
clining to  countenance  "  the  traffic  in  slaves  for  the  sake  of 
gain;  the  separation  of  husbands  and  wives,  parents  and 
children,  for  the  sake  of  filthy  lucre  or  the  convenience  of  the 
master ;  or  cruel  treatment  of  slaves  in  any  respect."  The 
dissatisfaction  caused  by  this  evident  compromise  led  to  the 
formation  of  a  new  church  in  1847  by  the  "  New  School "  Pres- 
bytery of  Ripley,  Ohio,  and  a  part  of  the  "  Old  School "  Pres- 
bytery of  Mahoning,  Pennsylvania.  This  organization  was 
called  the  Free  Church,  and  by  1860  had  extended  as  far  west 
as  lowa.^  It  is  not  strange  that  the  region  in  Ohio  where  the 
Free  Presbyterian  Church  was  founded  was  plentifully  dotted 
with  stations  of  the  Underground  Railroad,  and  that  the  house 
of  the  Rev.  John  Rankin,  who  was  the  leader  of  the  movement, 
was  known  far  and  wide  as  a  place  of  refuge  for  the  fugi- 
tive slave.2  At  Savannah,  Ashland  County,  Iberia,  Morrow 
County,  and  a  point  near  Millersburgh,  Holmes  County, 
Ohio,  the  work  is  associated  with  Free  Presbyterian  societies 
once  existing  in  those  neighborhoods.^  /  In  the  northern  part 
of  Adams  County,  as  also  in  the  northern  part  of  Logan 
County,  Ohio,  fugitives  were  received  into  the  homes  of  Cove- 
nanters. Galesburg,  Illinois,  with  its  college  was  founded  in 
1837  by  Presbyterians  and  Congregationalists,  who  united  to 
form  one  religious  society  under  the  name  of  the  "  Presbyte- 
rian Church  of  Galesburg."  Opposition  to  slavery  was  one 
of  the  conditions  of  membership  in  this  organization  from 
the  beginning.     This  intense  anti-slavery  feeling  caused  the 

1  Robert  E.  Thompson,  D.D.,  History  of  the  Presbyterian  Churches  in 
the  United  States,  1895,  pp.  136,  137. 

2  Address  by  J.  C.  Leggett,  in  a  pampblet  entitled  Rev.  John  Sankin, 
1892,  p.  9. 

'  Letter  of  Mrs.  A.  M.  Buchanan,  Savannah,  0.,  1893  ;  conversation  with 
Thomas  L.  Smith,  Fredericksburg,  Wayne  Co.,  O.,  Aug.  15,  1896. 


church  to  withdraw  from  the  presbytery  in  1855.^  From 
the  starting  of  the  colony  until  the  time  of  the  War  fugitives 
from  Missouri  were  conducted  thither  with  the  certainty  of 
obtaining  protection.  Thus  Galesburg  became,  probably, 
the  principal  underground  station  in  Illinois.^  Joseph  S. 
White,  of  New  Castle,  in  western  Pennsylvania,  notes  the 
circumstance  that  all  the  men  with  whom  he  acted  in  under- 
ground enterprises  were  Presbyterians.^ 

The  religious  centre  in  Ohio  most  renowned  for  the  aid  of 
refugees  was  the  Congregational  colony  and  college  at  Ober- 
lin.  The  acquisition  of  a  large  anti-slavery  contingent  from 
Lane  Seminary  in  1835  caused  the  college  to  be  known  from 
that  time  on  as  a  "  hotbed  of  abolitionism."  Fugitives  were 
directed  thither  from  points  more  or  less  remote,  and  during 
the  period  from  1835  to  1860  Oberlin  was  a  busy  station,* 
receiving  passengers  from  at  least  five  converging  lines.^  So 
notorious  did  the  place  become  that  a  guide-board  in  the  form 
of  a  fugitive  running  in  the  direction  of  the  town  was  set  up 
by  the  authorities  on  the  Middle  Ridge  road,  six  miles  north 
of  Oberlin,  and  the  sign  of  a  tavern,  four  miles  away,  "  was 
ornamented  on  its  Oberlin  face  with  a  representation  of  a  fugi- 
tive slave  pursued  by  a  tiger."  ^  On  account  of  the  persistent 
ignoring  of  the  law  against  harboring  slaves  by  those  connected  '  '^'"^ 
with  the  institution,  the  existence  of  the  college  was  put  in  ^Q., 
jeopardy.  Ex-President  Fairchild  relates  that, "  A  Democratic 
legislature  at  different  times  agitated  the  question  of  repeal- 
ing the  college  charter.  The  fourth  and  last  attempt  was 
made  in  1843,  when  the  bill  for  repeal  was  indefinitely  post- 
poned in  the  House  by  a  vote  of  thirty-six  to  twenty-nine."' 
The  anti-slavery  influence  of  Oberlin  went  abroad  with  its 

1  Professor  George  Chvirchill,  in  T%e  Bepublican  Segister,  Galesburg,  111., 
March  5,  1887. 

2  Charles  C.  Chapman  &  Co.,  Sistory  of  Knox,  County,  Illinois,  p.  210. 

'  Joseph  S.  White,  Note-book  containing  "  Some  Reminiscences  of  Slavery 
Times,"  New  Castle,  Pa.,  March  23,  1891. 

*  James  H.  FairchOd,  D.D.,  The  Underground  Bailroad,  "Vol.  IV  of  pub- 
lications of  the  Western  Reserve  Historical  Society,  Tract  No.  87,  p.  111. 

*  See  the  general  map. 

"  James  H.  Fairchild,  D.D.,  Oberlin,  the  Colony  and  the  College,  p.  117. 
''Ibid.,  p.  116.    See  also  Henry  Hovye,  Historical  Collections  of  Ohio, 
Vol.  n,  p.  383. 


students.  Ex-President  W.  M.  Brooks,  of  Tabor  College,  Iowa, 
a  graduate  of  Oberlin,  says,  "  The  stations  on  the  Underground 
Railroad  in  southwestern  Iowa  were  in  the  region  of  Civil 
Bend,  where  the  colony  from  Oberlin,  Ohio,  settled,  which 
afterwards  settled  Tabor.  .  .  .  From  this  point  (Civil  Bend, 
now  Percival)  fugitives  were  brought  to  Tabor  after  1852 ; 
here  the  entire  population  was  in  sympathy  with  the  escaped 
fugitives ;  .  .  .  there  was  scarcely  a  man  in  the  community 
who  was  not  ready  to  do  anything  that  was  needed  to  help 
fugitives  on  their  way  to  Canada."  ^  The  families  that  founded 
Tabor  were  "  almost  all  of  them  Congregationaligts."  ^  Pro- 
fessor L.  F.  Parker  of  GrinneU,  Iowa,  names  Oberlin  students 
in  connection  with  Quakers  as  the  chief  groups  in  Iowa  whose 
houses  were  open  to  fugitives.^  GrinneU  itself  was  first 
settled  by  people  that  were  mainly  Congregationalists.*  From 
the  time  of  its  foundation  (1854)  it  was  an  anti-slavery  centre, 
"  well  known  and  eagerly  sought  by  the  few  runaways  who 
camefromthe  meagre  settlements  southwest.  .  .in  Missouri."^ 

There  were,  of  course,  members  of  other  denominations  that 
befriended  the  slave ;  thus,  it  is  known  that  the  Unitarian 
Seminary  at  Meadville,  Pennsylvania,  was  a  centre  of  under- 
ground work,^  but,  in  general,  the  lack  of  information  con- 
cerning the  church  connections  of  many  of  the  company  of 
persons  with  whom  this  chapter  deals  prevents  the  drawing  of 
any  inference  as  to  whether  these  individuals  acted  indepen- 
dently or  in  conjunction  with  little  bands  of  persons  of  their 
own  faith. 

There  seems  to  have  been  no  open  appeal  made  to  church 
organizations  for  help  in  behalf  of  fugitives  except  in  Massa- 
chusetts. In  1851,  and  again  in  1854,  the  Vigilance  Commit- 
tee of  Boston  deemed  it  wise  to  send  out  circulars  to  the 
clergymen  of  the  commonwealth,  requesting  that  contribu- 

1  Letter  of  President  W.  M.  Brooks,  Tabor,  la.,  Oct.  11,  1894. 

^  I.  B.  Richman,  John  Brown  Among  the  Quakers,  and  Other  Sketches, 
p.  15. 

a  Letter  of  Professor  L.  P.  Parker,  GrinneU,  Iowa,  Sept.  30,  1894. 

*  J.  B.  GrinneU,  Men  and  Events  of  Forty  Tears,  p.  87. 

5  Letter  of  Professor  L.  F.  Parker,  GrinneU,  Iowa,  Sept.  30,  1894. 

'  Conversation  witii  Professor  Henry  H.  Barber,  of  Meadville,  Pa.,  in 
Cambridge,  Mass.,  June,  1897. 


tions  be  taken  by  them  to  be  applied  in  mitigation  of  the 
misery  caused  by  the  enactment  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law. 
The  boldness  and  originality  of  such  an  appeal,  and  more 
especially  the  evident  purpose  of  its  framers  to  create  senti- 
ment by  this  means  among  the  religious  societies,  entitle  it  to 
consideration.  The  first  circular  was  sent  out  soon  after  the 
enactment  of  the  odious  law,  and  the  second  soon  after  the 
passage  of  the  Kansas-Nebraska  Act.  The  results  secured  by 
the  two  circulars  wiU  be  seen  in  the  following  letter  from 
Francis  Jackson,  of  Boston,  to  his  fellow-townsmen  and  co- 
worker, the  Rev.  Theodore  Parker. 

Boston,  Aug.  27, 1854. 
Theodore  Parker: 

Dear  Friend, — The  contributions  of  the  churches  in  behalf  of 
the  fugitive  slaves  I  think  have  about  all  come  ia.  I  herewith 
inclose  you  a  schedule  thereof,  amounting  in  all  to  about  $800, 
being  but  little  more  than  half  as  much  as  they  contributed  in  1851. 

The  Mass.  Register  published  in  January,  1854,  states  the 
number  of  Religious  Societies  to  be  1,547  (made  up  of  471  Ortho- 
dox, 270  Methodist,  and  all  others  239).  We  sent  circulars  to  the 
whole  1,547 ;  only  78  of  them  have  responded  —  say  1  in  20  — 
from  130  Universalist  societies,  nothing,  from  43  Episcopal  $4, 
and  20  Friends  f  27  — the  Baptists  —  four  times  as  many  of  these 
societies  have  given  now  as  gave  in  1851,  this  may  be  because 
Brynes  was  a  Baptist  minister. 

The  average  amount  contributed  by  77  societies  (deducting  Froth- 
ingham  of  Salem)  is  $10  each;  the 28th Congregationalist  Church 
in  this  city  d^d  not  take  up  a  contribution,  nevertheless,  indi- 
vidual members  thereof  subscribed  upwards  of  $300  ;  they  being 
infidel  have  not  been  reckoned  with  the  churches. 

Of  the  cities  and  large  towns  scarce  any  have  contributed. 
Of  the  90  and  9  in  Boston  all  have  gone  astray  but  2  —  I  have 
not  heard  of  our  circular  being  read  in  one  of  them ;  stUl  it  may 
have  been.     Those  societies  who  have  contributed,  I  judge  were 

least  able  to  do  so. 

Francis  Jackson.  ^ 

The  political  affiliations  of  underground  helpers   before 
1840  were,  necessarily,  with  one  or  the  other  of  the  old 
1  Theodore  Parker's  Serap-hook,  Boston  Public  Library. 


parties  —  the  Whig  or  the  Democratic.  As  the  Whig  party 
was  predominantly  Northern,  and  as  its  sentiments  were  more 
distinctly  anti-slavery  than  those  of  its  rival,  it  is  fair  to  sup- 
pose that  the  small  band  of  early  abolitionists  were,  most  of 
them,  allied  with  that  party.^  The  Missouri  Compromise 
in  1820,  one  may  surmise,  enabled  those  that  were  wavering 
in  their  position  to  ally  themselves  with  the  party  that  was 
less  likely  to  make  demands  in  the  interests  of  the  slave 
power.  In  1840  opportunity  was  given  abolitionists  to  take 
independent  political  action  by  the  nomination  of  a  national 
Liberty  ticket.  At  that  time,  and  again  in  1844,  many  under- 
ground operators  voted  for  the  candidates  of  the  Liberty  party, 
and  subsequently  for  the  Free  Soil  nominees.^ 

But  it  is  not  to  be  supposed  that  all  friends  of  the  fugitive 
joined  the  political  movement  against  slavery.  Many  there 
were  that  regarded  party  action  with  disfavor,  preferring  the 
method  of  moral  suasion.  These  persons  belonged  to  the 
Quakers,  or  to  the  Garrisonian  abolitionists.  The  Friends 
or  Quakers  refused  as  far  as  possible  to  countenance  slavery, 
and  when  the  political  development  of  the  abolition  cause 
came  they  regretted  it,  and  their  yearly  meetings  withheld 
their  official  sanction,  so  far  as  known,  from  every  political 
organization.  Nevertheless,  there  were  some  members  of  the 
Society  of  Friends  that  were  swept  into  the  current,  and 
became  active  supporters  of  the  Liberty  party .^  The  most 
noted  and  influential  of  these  was  the  anti-slavery  poet, 
Whittier.*  When,  in  1860,  the  Republican  party  nominated 
Lincoln,  "a  large  majority  of  the  Friends,  ati  least  in  the 
North  and  West,  voted  for  him."  ^ 

The  followers  of  Garrison  that  remained  steadfast  to  the 
teachings  and  the  example  of  their  leader  shunned  all  con- 
nection with  the  political  abolitionist  movement.     Garrison 

^  This  view  agrees  with  the  testimony  gathered  by  correspondence  from 
surviving  abolitionists. 

2  This  statement  is  based  on  a  mass  of  correspondence. 

"Professor  A.  C.  Thomas  on  "The  Society  of  Priends,"  in  American 
Church  History,  Vol.  XII,  1894,  pp.  284,  285. 

*  Oliver  Johnson,  William  Lloyd  Garrison  and  His  Times,  1879,  p.  322. 

'  Professor  A.  C.  Thomas,  in  Ainerican  Church  History,  Vol.  XII,  p.  285. 


never  voted  but  once,i  and  by  1854  had  gone  so  far  in  his 
denunciation  of  slavery  that  he  burned  the  Constitution  of 
the  United  States  at  an  open-air  celebration  of  the  abolitionists 
at  Framingham,  Massachusetts.^  To  his  dying  day  he  seems 
to  have  believed  "that  the  cause  would  have  triumphed 
sooner,  in  a  political  sense,  if  the  abolitionists  had  continued 
to  act  as  one  body,  never  yielding  to  the  temptation  of  form- 
ing a  political  party,  but  pressing  forward  in  the  use  of  the 
same  instrumentalities  which  were  so  potent  from  1831  to 
1840."  3 

The  abolitionists  were  ill-judged  by  their  contemporaries, 
and  were  frequently  subjected  to  harsh  language  and  occa- 
sionally to  violent  treatment  by  persons  of  supposed  respect- 
ability. The  weight  of  opprobrium  they  were  called  upon  to 
bear  tested  their  great  strength  of  character.  If  the  probity, 
integrity  and  moral  courage  of  this  abused  class  had  been 
made  the  criteria  of  their  standing  they  would  have  been 
held  from  the  outset  in  high  esteem  by  their  neighbors. 
However,  they  lived  to  see  the  days  of  their  disgrace  turned 
into  days  of  triumph.  "  The  muse  of  history,"  says  Rhodes, 
"has  done  full  justice  to  the  abolitionists.  Among  them 
were  literary  men,  who  have  known  how  to  present  their 
cause  with  power,  and  the  noble  spirit  of  truthfulness  per- 
vades the  abolition  literature.  One  may  search  in  vain  for 
intentional  misrepresentation.  Abuse  of  opponents  and  criti- 
cism of  motives  are  common  enough,  but  the  historians  of 
the  abolition  movement  have  endeavored  to  relate  a  plain, 
honest  tale ;  and  the  country  has  accepted  them  and  their 
work  at  their  true  value.  Moreover,  a  cause  and  its  pro- 
moters that  have  been  celebrated  in  the  vigorous  lines  of 
Lowell  and  sung  in  the  impassioned  verse  of  Whittier  will 
always* be  of  perennial  memory."* 

'  Contempt  was  not  the  only  hardship  that  the  abolitionist 
had  to  face  when  he  admitted  the  fleeing  black  man  within 
his  door,  but  he  braved  also  the  existing  laws,  and  was  some- 

1  Life  of  Garrison,  by  his  cMdren,  Vol.  I,  p.  455.       ' 

2  Ibid.,  Vol.  Ill,  p.  412. 

'  Oliver  Johnson,  William  Lloyd  Garrison  and  His  Times,  p.  310. 

*  History  of  the  United  States  from  the  Compromise  of  1850,  Vol.  I,  p.  75. 


times  compelled  to  suffer  the  consequences  for  disregarding 
the  slaveholder's  claim  of  ownership.  In  1842  the  prosecu- 
tion of  John  Van  Zandt,  of  Hamilton  County,  Ohio,  was 
begun  for  attempting  to  aid  nine  slaves  to  escape.  The  case 
was  tried  first  in  the  Circuit  Court  of  the  United  States,  and 
then  taken  by  appeal  to  the  Supreme  Court.  The  suits  were 
not  concluded  when  the  defendant  died  in  May,  1847.  The 
death  of  the  plaintiff  soon  after  left  the  case  to  be  settled  by 
administrators,  who  agreed  that  the  costs,  amounting  to  one 
thousand  dollars,  should  be  paid  from  the  possessions  of  the 
defendant.^  The  judgments  against  Van  Zandt  under  the 
Fugitive  Slave  Law  amounted  to  seventeen  hundred  dollars.^  / 
In  1847  several  members  of  a  crowd  that  was  instrumental 
in  preventing  the  seizure  of  a  colored  family  by  the  name  of 
Crosswhite,  at  Marshall,  Michigan,  were  indicted  under  the 
Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1793.  Two  trials  followed,  and  at  the 
second  trial  three  persons  were  convicted,  the  verdict  against 
them  amounting,  with  expenses  and  costs,  to  six  thousand 
dollars.^  In  1848  Daniel  Kauffman,  of  Cumberland  County, 
Pennsylvania,  sheltered  a  family  of  thirteen  slaves  in  his  barn, 
and  gave  them  transportation  northward.  He  was  tried,  and 
sentenced  to  pay  two  thousand  dollars  in  fine  and  costs. 
Although  this  decision  was  reversed  by  the  United  States 
Supreme  Court,  a  new  suit  was  instituted  in  the  Circuit 
Court  of  the  United  States  and  a  judgment  was  rendered 
against  Kauffman  amounting  with  costs  to  more  than  four 
thousand  dollars.  This  sum  was  paid,  in  large  part  if  not 
altogether,  by  contributions.*  In  1854  Rush  R.  Sloane,  a 
lawyer  of  Sandusky,  Ohio,  was  tried  for  enabling  seven  fugi- 
tives to  escape  after  arrest  by  their  pursuers.  The  two 
claimants  of  the  slaves  instituted  suit,  but  one  only  obtained 
a  judgment,  which  amounted  to  three  thousand  dollars  and 

1  Letter  of  N.  L.  Van  Sandt,  Clarinda,  Iowa.  (Mr.  N.  L.  Van  Sandt  is 
the  son  of  John  Van  Zandt.)  See  also  Wilson's  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave 
Power,  Vol.  I,  pp.  475,  476  ;  T.  R.  Cobb,  Historical  Sketches  of  Slavery, 
p.  207  ;  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  42. 

2  See  pp.  274,  275,  Chapter  IX. 

*  Pamphlet  proposing  a  "  Defensive  League  of  Freedom,"  signed  by  Ellis 
Gray  Loring  and  others,  of  Boston,  pp.  6,  6.    See  Chapter  IX,  p.  276. 

*  Ibid.        ' 


costs.^  The  arrest  of  the  fugitive,  Anthony  Burns,  in  Boston, 
in  the  same  year,  was  the  occasion  for  indignation  meetings  at 
Faneuil  and  ileionaon  Halls,  which  terminated  in  an  attempt 
to  rescue  the  unfortunate  negro.  Theodore  Parker,  Wendell 
Phillips  and  T.  W.  Higginson  took  a  conspicuous  part  in 
these  proceedings,  and  were  indicted  with  others  for  riot. 
When  the  first  case  was  taken  up  the  counsel  for  the  defence 
made  a  motion  that  the  indictment  be  quashed.  This  was 
sustained  by  the  court,  and  the  affair  ended  by  all  the  cases 
being  dismissed.^ 

These  and  other  similar  cases  arising  from  the  attempted 
enforcement  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Act  in  various  parts  of  the 
country  led  to  the  proposal  of  a  Defensive  League  of  Free- 
dom. A  pamphlet,  issued  soon  after  the  rendition  of  Burns, 
by  Ellis  Gray  Loring,  Samuel  Cabot,  Jr.,  Henry  J.  Prentiss, 
John  A.  Andrew  and  Samuel  G.  Howe,  of  Boston,  and  James 
Freeman  Clarke,  of  Roxbury,  Massachusetts,  stated  the  object 
of  the  proposed  league  to  be  "  to  secure  all  persons  claimed 
as  fugitives  from  slavery,  and  to  all  persons  accused  of  violat- 
ing the  Fugitive  Slave  Bill  the  fullest  legal  protection ;  and 
also  indemnify  all  such  persons  against  costs,  fines,  and  ex- 
penses, whenever  they  shall  seem  to  deserve  such  indemnifi- 
cation." The  league  was  to  act  as  a  "  society  of  mutual  pro- 
tection and  every  member  was  to  assume  his  portion  of  such 
penalties  as  would  otherwise  fall  with  crushing  weight  on  a 
few  individuals."  Subscriptions  were  to  be  made  by  the  mem- 
bers of  the  organization,  and  five  per  cent  of  these  subscrip- 
tions was  to  be  called  for  any  year  when  it  was  needed.® 
How  much  service  this  association  actually  performed,  or 
whether,  indeed,  it  got  beyond  the  stage  of  being  merely  pro- 
posed is  not  known ;  in  any  event,  the  fact  is  worth  noting 
that  men  of  marked  ability,  distinction  and  social  connection 

1  5  McLean's  United  States  Beports,  p.  64  et  seq. ;  see  also  The  Firelands 
Pioneer,  July,  1888 ;  account  by  Rush  R.  Sloane,  pp.  47-49 ;  account  by 
H.  E.  Paden,  pp.  21,  22  ;  Chapter  IX,  pp.  276,  277. 

2  Commonwealth,  June  28,  1854 ;  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves, 
pp.  45,  46 ;  Wilson,  Rise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  II,  pp.  443,  444. 
See  Chapter  X,  pp.  331-333. 

=  Pamphlet  proposing  a  "Defensive  League  of  Freedom,"  pp.  1,  3,  11 
and  12. 


were  forming  societies,  like  the  Defensive  League  of  Freedom, 
and  the  various  vigilance  committees,  for  the  purpose  of  de- 
feating the  Fugitive  Slave  Act. 

Among  the  underground  helpers  there  are  a  number  of 
notable  persons  that  have  admitted  with  seeming  satisfaction 
their  complicity  in  disregarding  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law.  A 
letter  from  Frederick  Douglass,  the  famous  Maryland  bond- 
man and  anti-slavery  orator,  says :  "  My  connection  with  the 
Underground  Railroad  began  long  before  I  left  the  South, 
and  was  continued  as  long  as  slavery  continued,  whether  I 
lived  in  New  Bedford,  Lynn  [both  in  Massachusetts],  or 
Rochester,  N.Y.  In  the  latter  place  I  had  as  many  as  eleven 
fugitives  under  my  roof  at  one  time."  ^  In  his  autobiography 
Mr.  Douglass  declares  concerning  his  work  in  this  connection : 
"My  agency  was  all  the  more  exciting  and  interesting  be- 
cause not  altogether  free  from  danger.  I  could  take  not  a 
step  in  it  without  exposing  myself  to  fine  and  imprisonment, 
.  .  .  but  in  face  of  this  fact,  I  can  say,  I  never  did  more  con- 
genial, attractive,  fascinating,  and  satisfactory  work."^  Dr. 
Alexander  M.  Ross,  a  Canadian  physician  and  naturalist,  who 
has  received  the  decorations  of  knighthood  from  several  of 
the  monarchs  of  Europe  in  recognition  of  his  scientific  dis- 
coveries, spent  a  considerable  part  of  his  time  from  1856  to 
1862  in  spreading  a  knowledge  of  the  routes  leading  to  Can- 
ada among  the  slaves  of  the  Soutli.^  Dr.  Norton  S.  Towns- 
hend,  one  of  the  organizers  of  the  Ohio  State  University  and 
for  years  professor  of  agriculture  in  that  institution,  acted  as 
a  conductor  on  the  Underground  Railroad  while  he  was  a 
student  of  medicine  in  Cincinnati,  Ohio.*  Dr.  Jared  P.  Kirt- 
land,  a  distinguished  physician  and  scientist  of  Ohio,  kept  a 
station  in  Poland,  Mahoning  County,  where  he  resided  from 
1823  to  1837.5 

Harriet  Beecher  Stowe  gained  the  intimate  knowledge  of 

1  Letter  of  Frederick  Douglass,  Anacostia,  D.C.,  March  27,  1893. 
"  Life  of  Frederick  Douglass,  1881,  p.  271. 

*  Ross,  Recollections  and  Experiences  of  an  Abolitionist,  pp.  30-44,  67-71, 
121-132  ;  also  letters  of  Alexander  M.  Ross,  Toronto,  Ont. 

*  Conversations  with  Professor  N.  S.  Townshend,  Columhus,  O. 

6  Conversation  with  Miss  Mary  L.  Morse,  Poland,  O.,  Aug.  11, 1892  j  letter 
of  Mrs.  Emma  Kirtland  Hine,  Poland,  O.,  Jan.  23,  1897. 



the  methods  of  the  friends  of  the  slave  she  displays  in  Uncle 
Tom's  Cabin  thiough  her  association  with  some  of  the  most 
zealous  abolitionists  of  southern  Ohio.  Her  own  house  on 
Walnut  Hills,  Cincinnati,  was  a  refuge  whence  persons  whose 
types  are  portrayed  in  George  and  Eliza,  the  boy  Jim  and 
his  mother,  were  guided  by  her  husband  and  brother  a  por- 
tion of  the  way  towards  Canada.^  Colonel  Thomas  Went- 
worth  Higginson,  the  essayist  and  author,  while  stationed  as 
the  pastor  of  a  free  church  in  Worcester,  Massachusetts,  from 
1852  to  1858,  often  had  fugitives  directed  to  his  care.  In  a 
recent  letter  he  writes  of  having  received  on  one  occasion  a 
"consignment  of  a  young  white  slave  woman  with  two  white 
children  "  from  the  Rev.  Samuel  J.  May,  who  had  put  her 
"into  the  hands,  for  escort,  of  one  of  the  most  pro-slavery 
men  in  Worcester."  The  pro-slavery  man,  of  course,  did  not 
have  a  suspicion  that  he  was  acting  as  conductor  on  the 
Underground  Railroad.^ 

Joshua  R.  Giddings,  for  twenty  years  in  Congress  an  ardent 
advocate  of  the  abolition  of  slavery,  kept  a  particular  chamber 
in  his  house  at  Jefferson,  Ohio,  for  the  use  of  refugees.^  Some- 
times when  passing  through  Alliance,  Ohio,  Mr.  Giddings 
found  opportunity  to  call  upon  his  friend,  I.  Newton  Peirce, 
to  whom  he  contributed  money  for  the  transportation  of  run- 
away slaves  by  rail  from  that  point  to  Cleveland.*  What  his 
views  were  of  the  irritating  law  of  1850,  he  declared  on  the 
floor  of  the  House  of  Representatives,  February  11,  1852,  in 
the  following  words :  "  .  .  .  Let  me  say  to  Southern  men ; 
It  is  your  privilege  to  catch  your  own  slaves,  if  any  one  catches 
them.  .  .  .  When  you  ask  us  to  pay  the  expenses  of  arrest- 
ing your  slaves,  or  to  give  the  President  authority  to  appoint 
officers  to  do  that  dirty  work,  give  them  power  to  compel  our 
people  to  give  chase  to  the  panting  bondman,  you  overstep 
the  bounds  of  the  Constitution,  and  there  we  meet  you,  and 
there  we  stand  and  there  we  shall  remain.     We  shall  protest 

'  See  Chapter  X,  pp. 

2  Letter  of  T.  W.  Higginson,  Dublin,  N.H.,  July  24,  1896. 
'  Conversation  witii  J.  Addison  Giddings,  Jefferson,  0.,  Aug.  9,  1892. 
*  Letter  of  I.  Newton  Peirce,  Folcroft,  Sliaron  Hill  P.O.,  Pa.,  Feb.  1, 


against  such  indignity ;  we  shall  proclaim  our  abhorrence  of 
such  a  law.     Nor  can  you  seal  or  silence  our  voices."  ^ 

Thaddeus  St^vens,  a  leading  lawyer  of  Pennsylvania,  who 
rendered  the  cause  of  abolition  distinguished  service  in  Con- 
gress, where  he  gained  the  title  of  the  "great  commoner," 
entered  upon  the  practice  of  his  profession  at  Gettysburg  in 
1816,  and  soon  became  known  as  a  friend  of  escaping  slaves. 
His  removal  to  Lancaster  in  1842  did  not  take  him  off  the 
line  of  flight,  and  he  continued  to  act  as  a  helper.  The  woman 
that  "  kept  house  for  him  for  more  than  twenty  years,  and 
nursed  him  at  the  close  of  his  life,  was  one  of  the  slaves  he 
helped  to  freedom."  ^ 

James  M.  Ashley,  member  of  Congress  from  Ohio  for  over 
nine  years,  and  his  successor  in  the  House,  Richard  Mott,  a 
Quaker,  were  confederates  in  their  violation  of  the  Slave  Act 
at  Toledo,  Ohio.  Mr.  Ashley  began  his  service  in  behalf  of 
the  blacks  early  in  life.  As  a  youth  of  seventeen  in  Kentucky, 
he  helped  two  companies  across 'the  Ohio  River,  one  company 
of  seven  persons,  and  the  other  of  five.^  Sidney  Edgerton, 
who  was  elected  to  Congress  from  Ohio  on  the  Free  Soil 
ticket  in  1858,  and  four  years  after  was  appointed  governor 
of  Montana  Territory  by  President  Lincoln,  assisted  his  father 
in  the  befriending  of  slaves  at  Tallmadge,  Summit  County, 
Ohio.*  Jacob  M.  Howard,  afterwards  United  States  senator 
from  Michigan,  was  one  of  the  principal  operators  at  Detroit.^ 
General  Samuel  Fessenden,  of  Maine,  who  received  the  nomina- 
tion of  the  Liberty  party  for  the  governorship  of  his  state,  and 
later  for  Congress,  and  was  during  forty  years  the  leading 
member  of  the  bar  in  Maine,  gave  escaped  bondmen  reaching 
Portland  a  hearty  welcome  to  his  house  on  India  Street.^  In 
Vermont  there  were  a  number  of  men  prominent  in  public 
affairs  that  were  actively  engaged  in  underground  enterprises. 

1  George  W.  Julian,  T!ie  Life  of  Joshua  JR.  Giddings,  1892,  p.  289. 

2  Smedley,  Underground  Railroad,  pp.  36,  38,  46. 

s  Conversation  with  the  Hon.  James  M.  Ashley,  Toledo,  C,  July,  1894. 
*  Conversation  with  ex-Governor  Sidney  Edgerton,  Akron,  O. ,  Aug.  16, 

5  Conversation  with  Judge  J.  W.  Finney,  Detroit,  Mich.,  July  27,  1895. 
«  Letter  of  S.  T.  Pickard,  Portland,  Me.,  Nov.  18,  1893. 


Colonel  Jonathan  P.  Miller,of  Montpelier,  who  went  to  Greece, 
and  assisted  that  country  in  its  uprising  in  the  twenties,  served 
as  a  member  of  the  Vermont  legislature  in  1833,  and  took  part 
in  the  World's  Anti-Slavery  Convention  in  18-10,  was  among 
the  early  helpers  in  New  England.  Lawrence  Brainerd,  for 
several  years  candidate  for  governor  of  Vermont,  and  later 
chosen  to  the  United  States  Senate  as  a  Free  Soiler,  gave 
shelter  to  the  wanderers  at  St.  Albans,  where  thej''  were  almost 
within  sight  of  "the  Promised  Land."^  Others  were  the 
Rev.  Alvah  Sabin,  elected  to  Congress  in  1853,  who  kept  a 
station  at  the  town  of  Georgia,  the  Hon.  Joseph  Poland  of 
Montpelier,  the  Hon.  William  Sowles  of  Swanton,  the  Hon. 
John  West  of  Morristown  and  the  Hon.  A.  J.  Russell  of 

Gerrit  Smith,  the  famous  philanthropist,  kept  open  house 
for  fugitives  in  a  fine  old  mansion  at  Peterboro,  New  York. 
He  was  one  of  the  prime  movers  in  the  organization  of  the 
Liberty  party  at  Arcade,  New  York,  in  1840,  and  was  its 
candidate  for  the  presidency  in  1848  and  in  1852.  He  was 
elected  to  Consrress  in  1853  and  served  one  term.  It  is  said 
that  during  the  decade  1850  to  1860  he  "  aided  habitually  in 
the  escape  of  fugitive  slaves  and  paid  the  legal  expenses  of 
persons  accused  of  infractions  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law."^ 
The  Rev.  Owen  Lovejoy,  brother  of  the  martyr  Elijah  P. 
Lovejoy,  served  four  terms  in  the  national  House  of  Repre- 
sentatives. On  one  occasion  he  was  taunted  by  some  pro- 
slavery  members  of  the  House  with  being  a  "  nigger-stealer." 
In  a  speech  made  February  21,  1859,  Mr.  Lovejoy,  referring 
to  these  accusations,  said :  "  Is  it  desired  to  call  attention  to 
this  fact  —  of  my  assisting  fugitive  slaves  ?  .  .  .  Owen  Love- 
joy lives  at  Princeton,  Illinois,  three-quarters  of  a  mile  east 
of  the  village,  and  he  aids  every  fugitive  that  comes  to  his 
door  and  asks  it.  Thou  invisible  demon  of  slavery,  dost  thou 
think  to  cross  my  humble  threshold,  and  forbid  me  to  give 
bread  to  the  hungry  and  shelter  to  the  houseless !     I  bid  you 

1  Letter  of  Aldis  0.  Brainerd,  St.  Albans,  Vt.,  Oct.  21,  1895. 

2  Letter  of  Joseph  Poland,  Jlontpelier,  Vt.,  April  7,  1897. 

'  O.  B.  Erothingham,  Life  of  Gerrit  Smith;  National  Cyclopedia  of  Ameri- 
can Biography,  Vol.  II,  pp.  322,  323. 


defiance  in  the  name  of  my  God ! "  ^  Josiah  B.  Grinnell,  who 
represented  a  central  Iowa  district  in  the  Thirty-eighth  and 
the  Thirty-ninth  congresses,  had  a  chamber  in  his  house  at 
Grinnell  that  came  to  be  called  the  "liberty  room."  John 
Brown,  while  on  his  way  to  Canada  with  a  band  of  Missouri 
slaves,  in  the  winter  of  1858-1859,  stacked  his  arms  ia  this 
room,  and  his  company  of  fugitives  slept  there.^  Mr.  Grinnell 
relates  of  the  members  of  this  party,  "  They  came  at  night, 
and  were  the  darkest,  saddest  specimens  of  humanity  I  have 
ever  seen,  glad  to  camp  on  the  floor,  while  the  veteran  was 
a  night  guard,  with  his  dog  and  a  miniature  arsenal  ready 
for  use  on  alarm.  .  .  ."  ^ 

Thurlow  Weed,  the  distinguished  journalist  and  political 
manager,  even  in  his  busiest  hours  had  time  to  afford  relief 
to  the  underground  applicant.  One  who  knew  Mr.  Weed 
intimately  relates  the  following  incident :  "  On  one  occasion 
when  several  eminent  gentlemen  were  waiting  [to  see  the 
journalist]  they  were  surprised  and  at  first  much  vexed,  by 
seeing  a  negro  promptly  admitted.  The  negro  soon  reap- 
peared, and  hastily  left  the  house,  when  it  was  learned  that 
he  was  a  runaway  slave,  and  had  been  aided  in  his  flight  for 
liberty  by  the  man  who  was  too  busy  to  attend  to  Cabinet 
officers,  but  had  time  to  say  words  of  encouragement  and 
present  means  of  support  to  a  flying  fugitive."*  Sydney 
Howard  Gay,  for  several  years  managing  editor  of  the  New 
York  Tribune,  and  subsequently  on  the  editorial  staff  of  the 
New  York  Post  and  the  Chicago  Tribune,  was  an  efficient 
agent  of  the  Underground  Railroad  while  in  charge  of  the 
Anti-Slavery  Standard,  which  he  conducted  in  New  York 
City  from  1844  to  1857.^ 

Among  the  clergymen  that  made  it  a  part  of  their  religious 
duty  to  minister  to  the  needs  of  the  exiles  from  the  South, 
were  John  Rankin,  Samuel  J.  May  and  Theodore  Parker. 

I  Pamphlet  of  the  Rev.  D.  Heagle,  entitled  TTie  Great  Anti- Slavery  Agi- 
tator, Hon.  Owen  Lovejoy,  pp.  16,  17,  34,  35.  * 

"  J.  B.  Grinnell,  Men  and  Events  of  Forty  Years,  p.  207. 
8  Ibid.,  pp.  217,  218. 

*  T.  W.  Barnes,  Life  of  Thurlow  Weed,  1884,  Vol.  II,  p.  238. 
'  Wilson,  Else  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  II,  p.  52. 


Mr.  Rankin,  a  native  of  Tennessee,  early  developed  his  anti- 
slavery  views  in  Kentucky,  where  from  1817  to  1821  he 
served  as  pastor  of  two  Presbyterian  churches  at  the  town  of 
Carlisle.  During  the  next  forty-four  yeare  he  resided  at  Rip- 
ley, Ohio,  in  a  neighborhood  frequented  by  runaways.^  Doubt- 
less he  became  a  patron  of  these  midnight  visitors  at  the  time 
of  his  location  in  Ripley.  In  1828  he  established  himself  in 
a  house  situated  upon  the  crest  of  a  hill  just  back  of  the  town 
and  overlooking  the  Ohio  River.  For  many  years  the  lights 
beaming  through  the  windows  of  this  parsonage  were  hailed 
by  slaves  fleeing  from  the  soil  of  Kentucky  as  beacons  to  guide 
them  to  a  haven  of  safety.^  . ' 

Samuel  J.  May,  for  many  years  a  prominent  minister  in 
the  Unitarian  Church,  writes :  "  So  long  ago  as  1834,  when  I 
was  living  in  the  eastern  part  of  Connecticut,  I  had  fugitives 
addressed  to  my  care.  .  .  .  Even  after  I  came  to  reside  in 
Syracuse  [New  York]  I  had  much  to  do  as  a  station-keeper 
or  conductor  on  the  Underground  Railroad,  until  slavery  was 
abolished  by  the  proclamation  of  President  Lincoln.  .  .  . 
Fugitives  came  to  me  from  Maryland,  Virginia,  Kentucky, 
Tennessee  and  Louisiana.  They  came,  too,  at  all  hours  of 
day  and  night,  sometimes  comfortably,  yes,  and  even  hand- 
somely clad,  but  generally  in  clothes  every  way  unfit  to  be 
worn,  and  in  some  instances  too  unclean  and  loathsome  to  be 
admitted  into  my  house."  ^ 

Theodore  Parker,  the  learned  theologian  and  iconoclast  of 
Boston,  often  deserted  his  study  that  he  might  work  in  the 
cause  of  humanity.  In  his  Journal,  under  the  date  October 
23, 1850,  Mr.  Parker  wrote :  " .  .  .  The  first  business  of  the 
anti-slavery  men  is  to  help  the  fugitives ;  we,  like  Christ,  are 
to  seek  and  save  that  which  is  lost."  *  In  an  unsigned  note 
written  in  1851  to  his  friend  Dr.  Francis,  Mr.  Parker  says :  — 

...  I  have  got  some  nice  books  (old  ones)  coming  across 
the  water.     But,  alas  me !  such  is  the  state  of  the  poor  fugitive 

1  William  Bimey,  James  G.  Birney  and  Sis  Times,  p.  435. 

*  J.  C.  Leggett,  in  a  pamphlet  entitled  Bev.  John  Rankin,  1892,  pp.  8,  9 ; 
see  also  History  of  Brown  County,  Ohio,  p.  443. 

•  BecoUections  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  p.  297. 

♦  John  Weiss,  Life  and  Correspondence  of  Theodore  Parker,  1864,  p.  95. 


slaves,  that  I  must  attend  to  living  men,  and  not  to  dead  books, 
and  all  this  winter  my  time  has  been  occupied  with  these  poor 
souls.  The  Vigilance  Committee  appointed  me  spiritual  counsellor 
of  all  fugitive  slaves  in  Massachusetts  while  in  peril.  .  .  .  The 
Fugitive  Slave  Law  has  cost  me  some  months  of  time  already.  I 
have  refused  about  sixty  invitations  to  lecture  aud  delayed  the 
printing  of  my  book  —  for  that !  Truly  the  land  of  the  pilgrims 
is  in  great  disgrace  ! 

Yours  truly.' 

Among  the  underground  workers  there  were  two  whose 
principal  object  in  life  seems  to  have  been  to  assist  fugitive 
slaves.  These  two  organizers  of  underground  tiavel  were 
Levi  Coffin,  of  Cincinnati,  Ohio,  and  Thomas  Garrett,  of  Wil- 
mington, Delaware,  both  lifelong  members  of  the  Society  of 
Friends,  both  capable  business  men,  both  able  to  number  the 
unfortunates  they  had  succored  in  terius  of  thousands. 

Thomas  Garrett  was  born  in  Pennsylvania  in  1789,  and 
espoused  the  cause  of  emancipation  at  the  age  of  eighteen, 
when  a  colored  woman  in  the  employ  of  his  father's  family 
was  kidnapped.  He  succeeded  in  rescuing  the  woman  from 
the  hands  of  her  abductors,  and  from  that  time  on  made  it 
his  special  mission  to  aid  negroes  in  their  attempts  to  gain 
freedom.  In  1822  he  removed  to  Wilmington,  Delaware,  and 
during  the  next  forty  years  his  efforts  in  behalf  of  fugitives 
were  unremitting.  He  was  not  so  fortunate  as  Levi  Coffin 
in  escaping  the  penalties  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law;  an  open 
violation  of  the  law  got  him  into  difficulty  in  1848.  He  was 
tried  on  four  counts  before  Judge  Taney,  and  his  entire  prop- 
erty was  swallowed  up  in  fines  amounting  to  eight  thousand 
dollars.  There  is  a  tradition  that  the  presiding  judge  admon- 
ished Garrett  to  take  his  loss  as  a  lesson  and  in  the  future 
to  desist  from  breaking  the  laws ;  whereupon  the  aged  Quaker 
stoutly  replied :  "  Judge,  thou  hast  not  left  me  a  dollar,  but 
I  wish  to  say  to  thee,  and  to  all  in  this  court-room,  that  if 
any  one  knows  of  a  fugitive  who  wants  a  shelter  and  a  friend, 
send  him  to  Thomas  Garrett  and  he  will  befriend  him."  ^    Al- 

1  John  Weiss,  Life  and  Correspondence  of  Theodore  Parker,  1864,  p.  96. 

2  Lillie  B.  0.  Wyman,  in  New  England  Magazine,  March,  1896,  p.  112 ; 
William  Still,  Underground  Bailroad  Records,  pp.  623-641 ;  R.  C.  Smedley, 


though  sixty  years  of  age  when  misfortune  befel  him,  Mr. 
Garrett  was  successful  in  again  acquiring  a  competence 
through  the  kindness  of  fellow-townsmen  in  advancing  him 
capital  with  which  to  make  a  fresh  start.  Though  satisfied, 
he  was  wont  to  think  that  his  real  work  in  life  was  never 
finished.  "  The  war  came  a  little  too  soon  for  my  business. 
I  wanted  to  help  off  three  thousand  slaves.  I  had  only  got  up 
to  twenty-seven  hundred !  " 

/  Mr.  Coffin  was  a  native  of  North  Carolina.  Born  in  1798, 
he  was  while  still  a  boy  moved  to  assist  in  the  escape  of 
slaves  by  witnessing  the  cruel  treatment  the  negroes  were 
compelled  to  endure.  In  1826  he  settled  in  Wayne  County, 
Indiana,  on  the  line  of  the  Underground  Road,  and  such  was 
his  activity  that  his  house  at  New  Garden  (now  Fountain 
City)  soon  became  the  converging  point  of  three  principal 
routes  from  Kentucky.  In  1847  Mr.  Coffin  removed  to 
Cincinnati  for  the  purpose  of  opening  a  store  where  goods 
produced  by  free  labor  only  should  be  sold.  His  relations 
with  the  humane  work  were  maintained,  and  the  genial  but 
fearless  Quaker  came  to  be  known  generally  by  the  fictitious 
but  happy  title.  President  of  the  Underground  Railroad.  It 
has  been  said  of  Mr.  Coffin  that  "  for  thirty-three  years  he 
received  into  his  house  more  than  one  hundred  slaves  every 
year."  ^  In  1863  the  Quaker  philanthropist  assisted  in  the 
establishment  of  the  Freedmen's  Bureau.  In  the  following 
year  and  again  in  1867,  he  visited  Europe  as  agent  for  the 
Western  Freedmen's  Aid  Commission.  When  the  adoption  of 
the  Fifteenth  Amendment  of  the  Constitution  was  celebrated 
in  Cincinnati  by  colored  citizens  and  their  friends,  Mr.  Coffin 
was  one  of  those  called  upon  by  the  chairman  to  address 
the  great  meeting.  In  response,  the  veteran  station-keeper 
explained  how  he  had  obtained  the  title  of  President  of  the 
Underground  Road.  He  said,  "  The  title  was  given  to  me 
by  slave-hunters,  who  could  not  find  their  fugitive  slaves 
after  they  got  into  my  hands.  I  accepted  the  office  thus 
conferred   upon   me,   and  .  .  .  endeavored  to   perform   my 

Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  237-245 ;  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves, 
p.  60. 

1  Beminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin,  2d  ed.,  p.  694. 


duty  faithfully.  Government  has  now  taken  the  work  out 
of  our  hands.  The  stock  of  the  Underground  Railroad  has 
gone  down  in  the  market,  the  business  is  spoiled,  the  road  is 
now  of  no  further  use."  ^  He  then  amid  much  applause 
resigned  his  office,  and  declared  the  operations  of  the  Under- 
ground Railroad  at  an  end. 

^  Beminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin,  p.  712.        , 





Thekb  are  many  features  of  the  Underground  Railroad 
that  can  best  be  understood  by  means  of  a  geographical 
representation  of  the  system.  Such  a  representation  it  has 
been  possible  to  make  by  piecing  together  the  scraps  of 
information  in  regard  to  various  routes  and  parts  of  routes 
gathered  from  the  reminiscences  of  a  large  number  of  abo- 
litionists. The  more  or  less  limited  area  in  which  each 
agent  operated  was  the  field  within  which  he  was  not  "only 
willing,  but  was  usually  anxious,  to  confine  his  knowledge 
of  underground  activities.  Ignorance  of  one's  accomplices 
beyond  a  few  adjoining  stations  was  naturally  felt  to  be  a 
safeguard.  The  local  character  of  the  information  resulting 
from  such  precautions  places  the  investigator  under  the 
necessity  of  patiently  studyiiig  his  materials  for  what  may 
be  called  the  cumulative  evidence  in  regard  to  the  geography 
of  the  system.  It  is  because  the  evidence  gathered  has  been 
cumulative  and  corroborative  that  a  general  map  can  be  pre- 
pared. But  a  map  thus  constructed  cannot,  of  course,  be 
considered  complete,  for  it  cannot  be  supposed  that  after  the 
lapse  of  a  generation  representatives  of  all  the  important 
lines  and  branches  could  be  discovered.  Nevertheless,  how- 
ever much  the  map  may  fall  short  of  showing  the  system  in 
its  completeness,  it  will  be  found  to  help  the  reader  materially 
in  his  attempt  to  realize  the  extent  and  importance  of  this 

The  underground  system,  in  accordance  with  the  statement 

of  James  Freeman  Clarke,  is  commonly  understood  to  have 

.  extended  from  Kentucky  and  Virginia  across  Ohio,  and  from 

Maryland  through  Pennsylvania,  New  York  and  New  Eng- 

I  113 


land  to  Canada.i  But  this  desciiption  is  inadequate,  for  it 
fails  to  include  the  states  west  of  Ohio.  Henry  Wilson 
extends  the  field  westward  by  asserting  that  the  "  territory 
embraced  by  the  Middle  States  and  all  the  Western  States 
east  of  the  Mississippi  .  .  .  was  dotted  over  with  '  stations,' " 
and  "  covered  with  a  network  of  imaginary  routes,  not  found 
...  in  the  railway  guides  or  on  the  railway  maps;"^  and 
in  another  place  he  quotes  the  Rev.  Asa  Turner,  a  home 
missionary,  who  went  to  Illinois  in  1830,  who  says:  "Lines 
were  formed  through  Iowa  and  Illinois,  and  passengers  were 
carried  from  station  to  station  .  .  .  till  they  reached  the 
Canada  line."^  The  association  of  Kansas  with  the  two 
states  just  named  as  a  channel  for  th»  escape  of  runaways 
from  the  southwestern  slave  section,  is  made  by  Mr.  Richard 
J.  Hinton.*  The  addition  of  one  other  state.  New  Jersey,  is 
necessary  to  complete  the  list  of  Northern  states  involved  in 
the  Underground  Railroad  system.®  This  region,  which  forms 
nearly  one  quarter  of  the  present  area  of  the  Union,  consti- 
tuted the  irregular  zone  of  free  soil  intervening  between 
Southern  slavery  and  Canadian  liberty. 

The  conditions  that  determined  the  number  and  distribu- 
tion of  stations  throughout  this  region  are  clearly  discernible 
even  in  the  incomplete  data  with  which  we  are  forced  to  be 
content.  It  is  safe  to  assert  that  in  Ohio  the  conditions 
favorable  to  the  development  of  a  large  number  of  stations, 
and  the  dissemination  of  these  throughout  the  state,  existed 
in  a  measure  and  combination  not  reproduced  in  the  case  of 
any  other  state.  Ohio's  geographical  boundary  gave  it  a  long 
line  of  contact  with  slave  territory.  It  bordered  Kentucky 
with  about  one  hundred  and  sixty  miles  of  river  frontage; 
and  Virginia  with  perhaps  two  hundred  and  twenty-five  miles 
or  more,  and  crossings  were  made  at  almost  any  point.  The 
character  of  the  early  settlements  of  Ohio  is  a  factor  that  must 
not  be  overlooked.     The  northern  and  eastern  parts  of  the 

5  Anti-Slavery  Days,  p.  81 ;  M.  G.  MoDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  61. 

*  Rise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power  in  America,  Vol.  II,  p.  66. 
"Ibid.,  p.  68. 

*  John  Brov)n  and  His  Men,  p.  173. 

*  See  pp.  123-126,  this  chapter. 


state  were  dotted  over  with  many  little  communities  where 
New  England  ideas  prevailed ;  the  southern  and  southwestern 
parts  came  in  time  to  be  well  sprinkled  with  the  homes  of 
Quakers,  Covenanters  and  anti-slavery  Southerners  and  some 
negroes ;  the  central  and  southeastern  portions  contained  a 
number  of  Quaker  settlements.  The  remote  position  and 
sparse  settlement  of  the  northwestern  section  of  the  state 
probably  explain  the  failure  to  find  many  traces  of  routes  in 
that  region.  Family  ties,  church  fellowship,  an  aggressive 
anti-slavery  leadership,  —  journalistic  and  political,  —  the  leav- 
ening influence  of  institutions  like  Oberlin  College,  Western 
Reserve  College  and  Geneva  College,  all  contributed  to  propa- 
gate a  sentiment  that  was  ready  to  support  the  fleeing  slave ; 
and  thus  Ohio  became  netted  over  with  a  large  number  of 
interlacing  lines  of  escape  for  fugitive  slaves.  The  western 
portions  of  Pennsylvania  and  New  York,  and  the  eastern  por- 
tion of  Indiana  shared  with  Ohio  these  favorable  conditions, 
and  one  is  not  surprised  to  find  many  stations  in  these  regions. 
The  same'is  true  of  northern  and  Avest^central  Illinois,  where 
many  persons  of  New  England  descent  settled.  The  few 
lines  known  in  southwestern  Illinois  were  developed  by  a  few 
Covenanter  communities.  The  geographical  position  of  the 
most  southern  portions  of  Illinois  and  Indiana  determined  the 
character  of  the  population  settling  there,  and  thus  rendered 
underground  enterprises  in  those  regions  more  than  ordinarily 
dangerous.  There  may  have  been  stations  scattered  through 
those  parts,  but  if  so,  one  can  scarcely  hope  now  to  discover 
them.  The  great  number  of  routes  in  southeastern  Pennsyl- 
vania, and  the  stream  of  slave  emigration  flowing  through 
New  Jersey  to  New  York  are  to  be  attributed  largely  to  the 
untiring  activity  of  a  host  of  Quakers,  assisted  by  some 
negroes.  The  cooperation  of  some  zealous  station-keepers 
in  the  neighboring  slave  territory  seems  to  account  partly  for 
the  multitude  of  stations  that  appear  upon  the  map  between 
the  lower  Susquehanna  and  Delaware  rivers.  Whether  there 
was  any  underground  work  done  in  the  central  and  northern 
parts  of  Pennsylvania  is  not  known  ;  the  indications  are  that 
there  was  not  much;  the  stations  said  to  have  existed  at 
Milroy,  Altoona,   Work's  Place   and   Smicksburg  probably 


connected  with  lines  running  in  a  northwesterly  direction  to 
Lake  Erie.  This  is  known  to  have  been  true  of  the  stations 
at  Greensburg,  Indiana,  Clearfield  and  intermediate  points, 
which  were  linked  in  with  stations  leading  to  Meadville  and 
Erie.  The  remoteness  of  New  York  and  of  the  New  England 
states  from  the  slaveholding  section  explains  the  comparar 
tively  small  number  of  stations  found  in  those  states.  Iowa, 
which  bordered  on  slave  territory,  had  only  a  small  number 
of  stations,  for  it  was  a  new  region,  not  long  open  to  occupa- 
tion ;  and  only  the  southern  part  of  the  state  was  in  the  direct 
line  of  travel,  which  here  was  mostly  eastward.  There  were 
a  few  places  of  deportation  in  southeastern  Wisconsin  for 
fugitives  that  had  avoided  Chicago,  and  followed  the  lake- 
shore  or  the  Illinois  River  farther  northward.  A  rather  nar- 
row strip  of  Michigan,  adjoining  Indiana  and  Ohio,  was 
dotted  with  stations. 

There  were  friends  of  the  discontented  slave  in  the  South 
as  well  as  in  the  North,  although  it  cannot  be  said,  upon  the 
basis  of  the  small  amount  of  evidence  at  hand,  that  these 
were  sufficient  in  number  or  so  situated  as  to  maintain  regu- 
lar lines  of  escape  northward.  Doubtless  many  acts  of  kind- 
ness to  slaves  were  performed  by  individual  Southerners,  but 
those  were  not,  in  most  of  the  cases,  known  as  the  acts  of 
persons  cooperating  to  help  the  slave  from  point  to  point  un- 
til freedom  and  safety  should  be  reached.  That  there  were 
regular  helpers  in  the  South  engaged  in  concerted  action, 
Samuel  J.  May,  a  station-keeper  of  wide  information  con- 
cerning the  Road,  freely  asserts.  In  1869  he  wrote,  "  There 
have  always  been  scattered  throughout  the  slaveholding 
states  individuals  who  have  abhorred  slavery,  and  have 
pitied  the  victims  of  our  American  despotism.  These  per- 
sons have  known,  or  have  taken  pains  to  find  out,  others  at 
convenient  distances  northward  from  their  abodes  who  sym- 
pathized with  them  in  commiserating  the  slaves.  These 
sympathizers  have  known  or  heard  of  others  of  like  mind 
still  farther  north,  who  again  have  had  acquaintances  in  the 
free  states  that  they  knew  would  help  the  fugitive  on  his 
way  to  liberty.  Thus  lines  of  friends  at  longer  or  shorter 
distances  were  formed  from  many  parts  of  the  South  to  the 


very  borders  of  Canada.  .  .  .  "  ^  It  is  not  easy  to  substan- 
tiate this  statement ;  and  all  that  will  be  attempted  here  is 
the  presentation  of  such  examples  as  have  been  found  of  un- 
derground work  on  the  part  of  persons  living  south  of  Mason 
and  Dixon's  line.  Mr.  Stephen  B.  Weeks  is  authority  for 
the  statement  that  "  Vestal  Coffin  organized  the  Underground 
Railroad  near  the  present  Guilford  College  in  1819,"  and 
that  "  Addison  Coffin,  his  son,  entered  its  service  as  a  con- 
ductor in  early  youth.  .  .  . "  ^  Levi  Coffin,  Vestal's  cousin, 
helped  many  slaves  from  this  region  to  reach  the  North 
before  he  moved  to  Indiana  in  1826.^  In  Delaware  there 
seems  to  have  been  a  well-defined  route  upon  which  the 
houses  of  John  Hunn,  of  Middletown,*  Ezekiel  Hunn,  of 
Camden,  and  Thomas  Garrett,  of  Wilmington,^  were  impor- 
tant stations.  John  Hunn  speaks  of  himself  as  having  been 
"superintendent  of  the  Underground  Railroad  from  Wil- 
mington down  the  Peninsula."  ^  Maryland  also  had  its  line 
—  perhaps  its  lines  —  of  Road.  One  route  ran  overland 
from  Washington,  D.C.,  to  Philadelphia.  Mr.  W.  B.  Wil- 
liams, of  Charlotte,  Michigan,  throws  some  light  on  this 
route.  He  says,  "  My  uncle,  Jacob  Bigelow,  was  for  several 
years  previous  to  the  war  a  resident  of  Washington,  D.C. 
He  was  an  abolitionist,  and  general  manager  of  the  Under- 
ground Railway  from  Washington  to  Philadelphia.  .  .  ."  ^ 
Mr.  Robert  Purvis  tells  of  two  market-women  that  were 
agents  of  the  Underground  Road  in  Baltimore,  forwarding 
fugitives  to  the  Vigilance  Committee  with  which  he  was 
connected  in  Philadelphia.*  The  Quaker  City  was  also  a 
central  station  for  points  still  farther  south.  Vessels  en- 
gaged in  the  lumber  trade  plying  between  Newberne,  North 
Carolina,  and  Philadelphia,  were  often  supplied  with  slave 
passengers  by  the  son  of  a  slaveholder  living  at  Newberne.® 

1  Eecollections  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  pp.  296,  297. 
'  Southern  Quakers  and  Slavery,  p.  242. 

•  Ibid.,  p.  242.     See  also  Reminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin,  pp.  12-31. 

•  Smedley,  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  238,  244.  ^  n,ia.,  p.  326. 
0  Letter  of  John  Hunn,  Wyoming,  Del.,  Sept.  16,  1893. 

'  In  the  Key  to  Uncle  TonVs  Cabin  Is  the  facsimile  of  a  letter  addressed 
to  him  by  a  slave,  pp.  171,  172. 

'  E.  C.  Smedley,  Underground  Bailroad,  p.  355,  letter  from  Robert  Purvis 
printed  therein.  '  Chapter  III,  p.  68. 


A  slave  at  Petersburg,  Virginia,  was  agent  for  that  section 
of  country,  directing  fugitives  to  William  Still  in  Philadel- 
phia.i  Eliza  Bains,  a  slave-woman  of  Portsmouth,  Virginia, 
sent  numbers  of  her  people  to  Boston  and  New  Bedford  by 
boat.2  Frederick  Douglass  declared  that  his  connection 
with  the  Underground  Railroad  began  long  before  he  left  the 
South.3  Harriet  Tubman,  the  abductor,  made  use  of  stations 
at  Camden,  Dover,  Blackbird,  Middleton  and  New  Castle  in 
the  State  of  Delaware  on  her  way  to  Wilmington  and  Philar 
delphia.*  The  testimony  of  these  various  witnesses  seems  to 
show  that  underground  routes  existed  in  the  South,  but  it 
is  not  sufficient  in  amount  to  enable  one  to  trace  extended 
courses  of  travel  through  the  slaveholding  states. 

It  is  apparent  from  the  map  that  the  numerous  tributaries 
of  the  Ohio  and  the  great  valleys  of  the  Appalachian  range 
afforded  many  tempting  paths  of  escape.  These  natural 
routes  from  slavery  have  been  recognized  and  defined  by  a 
recent  writer.^  "  One,"  he  says,  "  was  that  of  the  coast  south 
of  the  Potomac,  whose  almost  continuous  line  of  swamps 
from  the  vicinity  of  Norfolk,  Va.,  to  the  northern  border  of 
Florida  afforded  a  refuge  for  many  who  could  not  escape  and 
became  'marooned'  in  their  depths,  while  giving  facility  to 
the  more  enduring  their  way  out  to  the  north  star 
land.  The  great  Appalachian  range  and  its  abutting  moun- 
tains were  long  a  rugged,  lonely,  but  comparatively  safe 
route  to  freedom.  It  was  used,  too,  for  many  years.  Doubt- 
less a  knowledge  of  that  fact,  for  John  Brown  was  always 
an  active  railroad  man,  had  very  much  to  do,  strategically 
considered,  with  the  Capfain's  decision  to  begin  operations 
therein.  Harriet  Tubman''.  .  .  was  a  constant  user  of  the 
Appalachian  route  in   her  ^^fforts   to   aid   escaping  slaves.^ 

1  Wm.  still,  Underground  JRailroaSi,  p.  41.  "The  Underground  Railroad 
brought  away  large  numbers  of  passeiiMrs  from  Richmond,  Petersburg,  and 
Norfolk,  and  not  a  few  of  them  lived  cosaparatively  within  a  hair's  breadth 
of  the  auction  block."     Wm.  Still,  Under^ound  Bailroad  Records,  p.  141. 

2  Conversation  with  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Cooley,  a  fugitive  from  Norfolk,  Va., 
Boston,  Mass.,  April  8,  1897. 

2  Letter  of  Frederick  Douglass,  Anacostia,  D.C.,  March  27,  1893. 

*  Conversation  with  Mrs.  Tubman,  Boston,  Mass.,  April  8,  1897. 

'  R.  J.  Hinton,  John  Brown  and  Mis  Men,  pp.  172,  173. 

^  Harriet  Tubman  has  told  the  author  that  she  did  not  travel  by  the 


,  .  .  Underground  Railroad  operations  culminating  chiefly 
at  Cleveland,  Sandusky,  and  Detroit,  led  by  broad  a,nd  defined 
routes  through  Ohio  to  the  border  of  Kentucky.  Through 
that  State,  into  the  heart  of  the  Cumberland  Mountains, 
northern  Georgia,  east  Tennessee,  and  northern  Alabama, 
the  limestone  caves  of  the  region  served  a  useful  purpose. 
.  .  .  The  Ohio-Kentucky  routes  probably  served  more  fugi- 
tives than  others  in  the  North.  The  valley  of  the  Missis- 
sippi was  the  most  westerly  channel,  until  Kansas  opened  a 
bolder  way  of  escape  from  the  southwest  slave  section." 
These  were  the  main  channels  of  flight  from  the  slave  states ; 
but  it  must  be  remembered  that  escapes  were  continually 
taking  place  along  the  entire  frontier  between  the  two 
sections  of  the  Union,  the  drift  of  travel  being  constantly 
towards  those  points  where  the  homes  of  abolitionists  or 
where  negro  settlements  indicated  initial  stations  on  lines 
running  north  to  freedom.  The  border  counties  of  the  slave 
states  were  thus  subject  to  a  steady  loss  of  their  dissatisfied 
bondmen.  This  condition  is  well  represented  in  the  case  of 
several  counties  of  Maryland,  concerning  which  Mr.  Smedley 
obtained  information.  He  says,  "The  counties  of  Fred- 
erick, Carroll,  Washington,  Hartford  and  Baltimore,  Md., 
emptied  their  fugitives  into  York  and  Adams  counties  across 
the  line  in  Pennsylvania.  The  latter  two  counties  had  set- 
tlements of  Friends  and  abolitionists.  The  slaves  learned 
who  their  friends  were  in  that  part  of  the  Free  State;  and  it 
was  as  natural  for  those  aspiring  to  liberty  to  move  in  that 
direction  as  for  the  waters  of  brooks  to  move  toward  larger 

Along  the  southern  margin  of  the  free  states  began  those 
weU-defined  trails  or  channels  that  have  lent  themselves  to 

mountain  route.  In  his  book  entitled  The  Underground  Bailroad  (p.  37), 
Mr.  E.  C.  Smedley  illustrates  the  value  of  the  AUeghanies  to  the  slaves  of 
the  regions  through  which  they  extend:  "WilUam  and  Phoehe  Wright  re- 
sided during  their  entire  Uves  in  a  very  old  settlement  of  Friends,  near  the 
southern  slope  of  South  Mountain,  a  spur  of  the  AUeghanies,  which  extends 
into  Tennessee.  This  location  placed  them  directly  in  the  way  to  render 
great  and  valuable  aid  to  fugitives,  as  hundreds,  guided  by  that  mountain 
range  northward,  came  into  Pennsylvania,  and  were  directed  to  their  home." 
'  Underground  Bailroad,  p.  36.        , 


representation  upon  the  large  map  given  herewith.  In  deal- 
ing with  the  tracings  shown  upon  this  map  it  will  be  best  to 
consider  the  territory  as  divided  into  three  regions,  the  first 
comprising  the  states  of  Pennsylvania,  New  Jersey  and  New 
York ;  the  second,  the  New  England  states ;  and  the  third, 
the  five  states  created  out  of  the  Northwest  Territory.  This 
arrangement  will,  perhaps,  admit  of  the  introduction  of  some 
system  into  the  discussion  of  what  might  otherwise  prove  a 
complicated  subject. 

In  point  of  time  underground  work  seems  to  have  devel- 
oped first  in  eastern  Pennsylvania.^  Regular  routes  of  travel 
began  to  be  formed  in  the  vicinity  of  Philadelphia  about  the 
middle  of  the  first  decade  of  the  present  century.  It  is  said 
that  "some  cases  of  kidnapping  and  shooting  of  fugitives 
who  attempted  to  escape  occurred  in  Columbia,  Pa.,  in  1804. 
This  incited  the  people  of  that  town,  who  were  chiefly 
Friends  or  their  descendants,  to  throw  around  the  colored 
people  the  arm  of  protection,  and  even  to  assist  those  who 
were  endeavoring  to  escape  from  slavery.  .  .  .  This  gave 
origin  to  that  organized  system  of  rendering  aid  to  fugitives 
which  was  afterward  known  as  the  '  Underground  Railroad.' " 
Thus  begun,  the  service  rapidly  extended,  being  greatly 
favored  by  the  character  of  the  population  in  southeastern 
Pennsylvania,  which  was  largely  Quaker,  with  here  and 
there  some  important  settlements  of  manumitted  slaves.  It 
was  on  account  of  the  large  number  of  runaways  early  resort- 
ing to  Columbia  that  it  became  necessary  to  have  an  under- 
standing with  regard  to  places  of  entertainment  for  them 
along  lines  leading  to  the  Eastern  states  and  to  Canada, 
whither  most  of  the  fugitives  were  bound.^  There  seems  to 
have  been  scarcely  any  limitation  upon  the  number  of  per- 
sons in  Lancaster,  Chester  and  Delaware  counties  willing  to 
assume  agencies  for  the  forwarding  of  slaves ;  hence  this 
region  became  the  field  through  which  more  routes  were  de- 

i  See  pp.  33  and  34,  Chapter  II. 

2  R.  C.  Smedley,  Underground  Railroad,  pp,  26,  27,  28,  29,  30.  For  a 
description  of  the  routes  of  this  region,  our  dependence  is  almost  wholly 
upon  Mr.  Smedley,  whose  intimate  knowledge  of  them  was  ohtained  by  con- 
versation and  correspondence  with  many  of  the  operators.  Ibid.,  Preface, 
P-  X. 


veloped  in  proportion  to  its  extent  than  any  other  area  in 
the  Northern. states.  It  will  be  necessary  to  make  use  of  a 
special  map  of  the  region  in  order  to  follow  out  the  principal 
channels  of  escape  and  to  discover  the  centres  from  which 
the  Canada  routes  sprung.^  West  of  the  Susquehanna  River 
Gettysburg  and  York  were  the  stations  chiefly  sought  by 
slaves  escaping  from  the  border  counties  of  Maryland. 
Along  the  western  shore  of  the  Chesapeake  runaways  passed 
northward  to  Havre  de  Grace,  where  they  usually  crossed  the 
Susquehanna,  and  with  others  from  the  Eastern  Shore  found 
their  way  to  established  stations  in  the  southern  part  of  Lan- 
caster and  Chester  counties  in  Pennsylvania.  From  the 
territory  adjacent  to  the  Delaware  the  movement  was  to 
Wilmington,  and  thence  north  through  Chester  and  Dela- 
ware counties.  The  routes  developed  in  the  three  regions 
just  indicated  formed  three  systems  of  underground  travel, 
the  first  of  which  may  be  called  the  western,  the  second,  the 
middle,  and  the  third,  the  eastern  system.  These  systems 
comprised,  besides  the  main  roads  indicated  in  heavy  lines 
upon  the  map,  numerous  side-tracks  and  branches  shown  by 
the  light  lines.  Their  common  goal  was  Phoenixville,  the 
home  of  Elijah  F.  Pennypacker,  and  from  here  fugitives 
were  sent  to  Philadelphia,  Norristown,  Quakertown,  Reading 
and  other  stations  as  occasion  required.  While  Phoenixville 
may  be  regarded  as  the  central  station  for  the  three  systems 
mentioned,  it  did  not  receive  all  the  negroes  escaping  through 
this  section,  and  Smedley  says  that  "  Hundreds  were  sent  to 
the  many  branch  stations  along  interlacing  routes,  and  hun- 
dreds of  others  were  sent  from  Wilmington,  Columbia,  and 
stations  westward  direct  to  the  New  England  States  and 
Canada.  Many  of  these  passed  through  the  hands  of  the 
Vigilance  Committee  connected  with  the  anti-slavery  office 
in  Philadelphia,"  ^  From  this  point  one  outlet  led  overland 
across  New  Jersey  to  Jersey  City  and  New  York ;  another 

1  The  special  map  of  these  counties  ■will  be  found  in  a  comer  of  the 
general  map. 

2  The  Underground  Railroad,  p.  209.  For  a  description  of  the  secret 
paths  in  southeastern  Pennsylvania,  see  Smedley's  book,  pp.  30,  31 ,  32,  33, 
34,  50,  53,  77,  85,  89,  90, 100,  132,  137,  142,  164, 172, 191,  192,  208,  217,  218, 
219,  etc. 


outlet  from  Philadelphia,  was  the  Reading  Railroad,  which 
also  carried  refugees  from  various  stations  along  its  course. 
How  many  steam  railway  extensions  may  have  been  con- 
nected with  the  underground  tracks  of  southeastern  Pennsyl- 
vania cannot  be  discovered.  One  such  extension  was  the 
Northern  Central  Railroad  from  Harrisburg  across  the  state 
to  Elmira,  New  York.^  Another  trans-state  route  in  eastern 
Pennsylvania  appears  to  have  had  its  origin  at  or  near  Sads- 
bury,  Chester  County,  and  to  have  run  overland  to  Bing- 
hamton.  New  York.^  The  intermediate  stations  along  this 
pathway  are  not  known,  although  some  disconnected  places 
of  resort  in  northeastern  Pennsylvania^  may  have  consti- 
tuted a  section  of  it.  Lines  of  northern  travel  for  fugitives 
also  passed  through  Bucks  County,  but  Dr.  Edward  H. 
Magill,  formerly  President  of  Swarthmore  College,  thinks 
these  were  "  less  clearly  marked  "  than  those  running  through 
Chester  and  Lancaster  counties.  He  finds  that  friends  of 
the  slave  in  the  middle  section  of  Bucks  County  generally 
forwarded  the  negroes  to  Quakertown  or  even  as  far  north, 
by  stage  or  private  conveyance,  as  Stroudsburg.  From  this 
point  they  sometimes  went  to  Montrose  or  Friendsville,  in 
Susquehanna  County,  near  the  southern  boundary  of  the 
State  of  New  York,*  whence,  together  with  fugitives  from 
Wilkesbarre,  and,  perhaps,  the  Lehigh  Valley,  they  were  sent 
on  to  Gerrit  Smith,  at  Peterboro  in  central  New  York,  and 
thence  to  Canada.^ 

At  the  other  end  of  Pennsylvania  several  routes  and  sec- 
tions of  routes  have  been  discovered.  The  most  important 
of  these  seem  to  have  been  the  roads  resulting  from  the  con- 
vergence of  at  least  three  well-defined  lines  of  escape  at 
Uniontown  in  southwestern  Pennsylvania  from  the  neigh- 

1  Letters  of  Mrs.  Susan  L.  Crane,  Elmira,  N.Y.,  Aug.  27,  and  Sept.  14 
and  23,  1896 ;  letters  of  John  W.  Jones,  Elmira,  N.Y.,  Dec.  17,  1896,  and 
Jan.  16,  1897. 

2  Smedley,  Underground  Railroad,  p.  91. 
'  See  the  general  map. 

*  Article  by  Dr.  Magill,  entitled  "  When  Men  were  Sold.  The  Under- 
ground Railroad  in  Bucks  County,"  in  The  Bucks  County  Intelligencer, 
Feb.  3,  1898.     Same  article  in  the  Friends'  Intelligencer,  Feb.  26,  1898. 

6  Letter  of  Horace  Brewster,  Montrose,  Pa.,  March  20,  1898. 


boring  counties  of  Virginia  and  Maryland.  A  map  drawn  by 
Mr.  Amos  M.  JolIifEe,  of  Uniontown,  shows  that  there  were 
two  courses  leading  northward  from  his  neighborhood,  both 
of  which  terminated  at  Pittsburg.^  From  this  point  fugitives 
seem  to  have  been  sent  to  Cleveland  by  rail,  or  to  have  been 
directed  to  follow  the  Alleghany  or  the  Ohio  and  its  tributa- 
ries north.  Investigation  proves  that  friends  were  not  lacking 
at  convenient  points  to  help  them  along  to  the  main  termi- 
nals for  this  region,  namely,  Erie  and  Buffalo,  or  across  the 
border  of  the  state  to  the  much-used  routes  of  the  Western 
Reserve.^  East  of  the  Alleghany  River  significant  traces  of 
underground  work  are  found  running  in  a  northeasterly  di- 
rection from  Greensburg  through  Indiana  County  to  Clear- 
field,^ a  distance  of  seventy-five  miles,  and  from  Cumberland, 
Maryland,  through  Bedford  and  PleasantvUle  to  Altoona,* 
about  the  same  distance.  These  fragmentary  routes  may 
have  had  connections  with  some  of  the  fragmentary  lines  of 
western  New  York.  From  Clearfield  an  important  branch  is 
known  to  have  run  northwest  to  Shippenville  and  Franklin, 
and  so  to  Erie,  a  place  of  deportation  on  the  lake  of  the  same 

New  Jersey  was  intimately  associated  with  Philadelphia 
and  the  adjoining  section  in  the  underground  system,  and 
afforded  at  least  three  important  outlets  for  runaways  from 
the  territory  west  of  the  Delaware  River.  Our  knowledge  of 
these  outlets  is  derived  solely  from  the  testimony  of  the  Rev. 
Thomas  Clement  Oliver,  who,  like  his  father,  travelled  the 
New  Jersey  routes  many  times  as  a  guide  or  conductor.^ 
Probably  the  most  important  of  these  routes  was  that  leading 

1  Letter  of  Mr.  JoUiffe,  Nov.  17,  1895. 

2  Letter  of  John  F.  Hogue,  Greenville,  Pa.,  Nov.  25,  1895  ;  letter  of  S.  P. 
Stewart,  Clark,  Mercer  Co.,  Pa.,  Dec.  26,  1895 ;  letter  of  W.  W.  Walker, 
Makanda,  Jackson  Co.,  Bl.,  March  14,  1896  ;  note-book  of  Joseph  S.  White, 
of  New  Castle,  Pa.,  containing  "  Some  Reminiscences  of  Slavery  Times." 

"  Letters  of  C.  P.  Rank,  Cush  Creek,  Indiana  Co.,  Pa.,  Dec.  25,  1896,  and 
Jan.  4,  1897  ;  letter  of  William  Atcheson,  DuBois,  Pa.,  Jan.  11,  1897. 

*  Letter  of  Wyett  Perry,  Bedford,  Pa.,  Dec.  23,  1895  ;  letter  of  John  W. 
Rouse,  Bedford,  Pa.,  Nov.  25,  1895  ;  letter  of  William  M.  Hall,  Bedford,  Pa., 
Nov.  30,  1895. 

«  Conversation  with  William  Edwards,  Amherstburg,  Ont.,  Aug.  3,  1895. 

•  Conversation  with  Mr.  Oliver,  Windsor,  Ont.,  Aug.  2,  1895. 


from  Philadelphia  to  Jersey  City  and  New  York.     From 
Philadelphia  the  runaways  were  taken  across  the  Delaware 
River  to  Camden,  where  Mr.  Oliver  lived,  thence  they  were 
conveyed  northeast  following  the  course  of  the  river  to  Bur- 
lington, and  thence  in  the  same  direction  to  Bordentown.     In 
Burlington,  sometimes  called  Station  A,  a  short  stop  was 
made  for  the  purpose  of  changing  horses  after  the  rapid  drive 
of  twenty  miles  from  Philadelphia.     The  Bordentown  station 
was  denominated  Station  B  east.     Here  the  road  took  a  more 
northerly  direction  to  Princeton,  where  horses  were  again 
changed  and  the   journey   continued  to    New   Brunswick. 
Just  east  of  New  Brunswick  the  conductors  sometimes  met 
with  opposition  in  attempting  to  cross  the  Raritan  River  on 
their  way  to  Jersey  City.     To  avoid  such  interruption  the 
conductors  arranged  with   Cornelius  Cornell,  who  lived  on 
the  outskirts  of  New  Brunswick,  and,  presumably,  near  the 
river,  to  notify  them  when  there  were  slave-catchers  or  spies 
at  the  regular  crossing.     On  receiving  such  information  they 
took  a  by-road  leading  to  Perth  Amboy,  whence  their  prot^- 
g^s  could  be  safely  forwarded  to  New  York  City.     When  the 
way  was  clear  at  the  Raritan  the  company  pursued  its  course 
to  Rahway ;  here  another  relay  of  horses  was  obtained  and 
the  journey  continued  to  Jersey  City,  where,  under  the  care 
of  John  Everett,  a  Quaker,  or  his  servants,  they  were  taken 
to  the  Forty-second  Street  railroad  station,  now  known  as 
the  Grand  Central,  provided  with  tickets,  and  placed  on  a 
through  train  for  Syracuse,  New  York.     The  second  route 
had  its  origin  on  the  Delaware  River  forty  miles  below  Phila- 
delphia, at  or  near  Salem.     This  line,  like  the  others  to  be 
mentioned  later,  seems  to  have  been  tributary  to  the  Phila- 
delphia route  traced  above.     Nevertheless,  it  had  an  indepen- 
dent course  for  sixty  miles  before  it  connected  with  the  more 
northern  route  at  Bordentown.     This  distance  of  sixty  miles 
was  ordinarily  travelled  in  three  stages,  the  first  ending  at 
Woodbury,  twenty-five  miles  north  of   Salem,  although  the 
trip  by  wagon  is  said  to  have  added  ten  miles  to  the  estimated 
distance  between  the  two  places  ;  the  second  stage  ended  at 
Evesham  Mount ;  and  the  third,  at  Bordentown.     The  third 
route  was  called,  from  its  initial  station,  the  Greenwich  line. 


This  station  is  vividly  described  as  having  been  made  up  of  a 
circle  of  Quaker  residences  enclosing  a  swampy  place  that 
swarmed  with  blacks.  One  may  surmise  that  it  made  a 
model  station.  Slaves  were  transported  at  night  across  the 
Delaware  River  from  the  vicinity  of  Dover,  in  boats  marked 
by  a  yellow  light  hung  below  a  blue  one,  and  were  met  some 
distance  out  from  the  Jersey  shore  by  boats  showing  the  same 
lights.  Landed  at  Greenwich,  the  fugitives  were  conducted 
north  twenty-five  miles  to  Swedesboro,  and  thence  about  the 
same  distance  to  Evesham  Mount.  From  this  point  they 
were  taken  to  Mount  Holly,  and  so  into  the  northern  or 
Philadelphia  route.  Still  another  branch  of  this  Philadel- 
phia line  is  known.  It  constitutes  the  fourth  road,  and 
is  described  by  Mr.  Robert  Purvis  ^  as  an  extension  of  a  route 
through  Bucks  County,  Pennsylvania,  that  entered  Trenton, 
New  Jersey,  from  Newtown,  and  ran  directly  to  New  Bruns- 
wick and  so  on  to  New  York. 

Mr.  Eber  M.  Pettit,  for  many  years  a  conductor  of  the 
Underground  Railroad  in  western  New  York,^  asserts  that 
the  Road  had  four  main  lines  across  his  state,  and  scores  of 
laterals,^  but  he  nowhere  attempts  to  identify  these  lines  for 
the  benefit  of  those  less  well  informed  than  himself.  Con- 
cerning what  may  be  supposed  to  have  been  one  of  the  lines, 
he  speaks  as  follows :  "  The  first  well-established  line  of  the 
U.  G.  R.  R.  had  its  southern  terminus  in  Washington,  D.C., 
and  extended  in  a  pretty  direct  route  to  Albany,  N.Y.,  thence 
radiating  in  all  directions  to  all  the  New  England  states, 
and  to  many  parts  of  this  state.  .  .  .  The  General  Super- 
intendent resided  in  Albany.  .  .  .  He  was  once  an  active 
member  of  one  of  the  churches  in  Fredonia.  Mr.  T.,  his 
agent  in  Washington  City,  was  a  very  active  and  efficient 
man  ;  the  Superintendent  at  Albany  was  in  daily  communi- 
cation by  mail  with  him  and  other  subordinate  agents  at  all 
points  along  the  line."  *  Frederick  Douglass,  who  was 
familiar  with  this  Albany  route  during  the  period  of  his 
residence  in  Rochester,  describes  it  as  running  through  Phil- 

1  Conversation  with  Jlr.  Purvis,  Philadelphia,  Dec.  23,  1895. 
^  Sketches  in  the  History  of  the  Underground  Bailroad,  1879,  Preface, 
p.  xvi.  3  76 id. ,  p.  xiv.  *  TSzU,  p.  34. 


adelphia,  New  York,  Albany,  Rochester,  and  thence  to  Can- 
ada ;  and  he  gives  the  name  of  the  person  at  each  station 
that  was  most  closely  associated  in  his  mind  with  the  work 
of  the  station.  Thus,  he  says  that  the  "fugitives  were 
received  in  Philadelphia  by  William  Still,  by  him  sent  to 
New  York,  where  they  were  cared  for  by  Mr.  David  Ruggles, 
and  afterwards  by  Mr.  Gibbs,  .  .  .  thence  to  Stephen  Myers 
at  Albany ;  thence  to  J.  W.  Loguen,  Syracuse ;  thence  to 
Frederick  Douglass,  Rochester ;  and  thence  to  Hiram 
Wilson,  St.  Catherines,  Canada  West."  ^  Not  all  the  ne- 
groes travelling  by  this  route  went  as  far  as  Rochester; 
some  were  turned  north  at  Syracuse  to  the  port  of  Oswego, 
where  they  took  boat  for  Canada.^  The  Rev.  Charles  B.  Ray, 
a  member  of  the  Vigilance  Committee  of  New  York  City, 
and  editor  of  The  Colored  American,  has  left  some  testimony 
which  corroborates  that  just  given.  He  knew  of  a  regular 
route  stretching  from  Washington,  by  way  of  Baltimore  and 
Philadelphia,  to  New  York,  thence  following  the  Hudson  to 
Albany  and  Troy,  whence  a  branch  ran  westward  to  Utica, 
Syracuse  and  Oswego,  with  an  extension  from  Syracuse  to 
Niagara  Falls.  New  York  was  a  kind  of  receiving  point 
from  which  fugitives  were  assisted  to  Albany  and  Troy,  or, 
as  sometimes  happened,  to  Boston  and  New  Bedford,  or, 
when  considerations  of  safety  warranted  it,  were  permitted 
to  pass  to  Long  Island.^  The  lines  that  are  said  to  have 
radiated  from  Albany  are  mentioned  neither  by  Mr.  Doug- 
lass nor  by  Mr.  Ray,  but  we  know  from  other  witnesses 
that  some  of  the  fugitives  sent  to  Troy  found  their  way  to 
places  of  refuge  north  and  east.  Mr.  Martin  I.  Townsend,  of 
Troy,  writes  that  fugitives  arriving  at  that  city  were  supplied 
with  money  and  forwarded  either  to  Suspension  Bridge,  on 
the  Niagara  River,  or  by  way  of  Vermont  and  Lake  Cham- 
plain   to   Rouses   Point.*     It   seems   probable   that   another 

1  Letter  of  Frederick  Douglass,  Cedar  Hill,  Anacostia,  D.C.,  Marcli  27, 

2  Letter  of  Joseph  A.  Allen,  Medfield,  Mass.,  Aug.  10,  1896. 

'  Letter  of  Florence  and  Cordelia  H.  Ray,  Woodside,  L.I.,  April  12,  1897. 
See  Sketch  of  the  Life  of  Sev.  Chas.  B.  Say,  written  by  the  Misses  Ray. 
•  Letters  of  Martin  1.  Townsend,  Troy,  N.Y.,  Sept.  4  and  15,  1896. 


brancli  of  the  secret  thoroughfare  followed  the  valley  of  the 
Hudson  from  Troy  to  the  farm  of  John  Brown,  near  North 
Elba  among  the  Adirondacks.  Mr.  Richard  H.  Dana  visited 
this  frontier  home  of  Brown  one  summer,  and  was  informed 
by  his  guide  that  the  country  about  there  belonged  to  Gerrit 
Smith ;  that  it  was  settled  for  the  most  part  by  families  of 
fugitive  slaves,  who  were  engaged  in  farming ;  and  that 
Brown  held  the  position  of  a  sort  of  ruler  among  them.  The 
view  was  therefore  credited  that  this  neighborhood  was  one 
of  the  termini  of  the  Underground  Railroad."  ^ 

Gerrit  Smith,  the  friend  and  counsellor  of  Brown,  lived  at 
Peterboro,  in  central  New  York,  where  his  house  was  an 
important  station  for  runaway  slaves.  His  open  invitation 
to  fugitives  to  come  to  Peterboro  gave  the  post  he  main- 
tained great  publicity,  and  many  negroes  resorted  thither. 
From  Peterboro  they  were  sent  in  Mr.  Smith's  wagon  to 
Oswego.2  A  little  to  the  east  and  north  of  this  place  of  de- 
portation there  were  what  may  perhaps  be  called  emergency 
stations  at  or  near  Mexico,  New  Haven,  Port  Ontario  ^  and 
Cape  Vincent.*  From  the  place  last  named,  and  perhaps  also 
from  Port  Ontario,  fugitives  took  boat  for  Kingston.^  A 
route  that  came  into  operation  much   later  than  that  with 

1  0.  F.  Adams,  Life  of  Bickard  Heni-y  Dana,  Vol.  I,  p.  155 ;  History  of 
Madison  County,  New  York,  by  Mrs.  X..  M.  Hammond,  p.  721. 

2  0.  B.  Frothingham,  Life  of  Gerrit  Smith,  t^j^.  113,  114. 

3  Letter  of  O.  J.  Russell,  Pulaski,  N.T.,  July  29,  1896. 

*  Mr.  George  C.  Bragdon  writes  concerning  the  runaways  harbored  by  his 
father,  near  Port  Ontario  :  "I  believe  they  usually  went  to  Cape  Vincent^ 
near  the  mouth  of  the  St.  Lawrence,  and  were  taken  over  to  Canada  from 
there.  ...  I  believe  some  of  the  slaves  received  by  him  were  sent  on  from 
Peterboro  by  Gerrit  Smith  to  Asa  S.  Wing  or  James  C.  Jackson  (Mexico), 
and  came  from  them  to  our  house.  They  steered  clear  of  the  villages,  as  a 
rule.  Our  farm  was  favorably  situated  for  concealing  them  and  helping  them 
on."    Letter  of  George  C.  Bragdon,  Rochester,  N.Y.,  Aug.  11,  1896. 

Mrs.  Elizabeth  Smith  MUler,  the  daughter  of  Gerrit  Smith,  says  that  in 
October,  1839,  the  "  White  Slave,  Harriet,"  was  taken  by  Mr.  Federal  Dana 
from  her  father's  house  directly  to  Cape  Vincent,  and  that  Mr.  Dana  wrote 
from  that  point:  "I  saw  her  pass  the  ferry  this  morning  into  Canada." 
Letter  received  from  Mrs.  Miller,  Peterboro,  N.Y.,  Sept.  21,  1896. 

'  The  fugitive  Jerry  McHenry,  after  his  rescue  in  Syracuse,  was  hurried 
to  Mexico,  thence  to  Oswego,  and  from  this  point  was  transported  across  the 
lake  to  Kingston.  May,  Some  Recollections  of  Our  Anti-Slavery  Conflict, 
pp.  378,  379. 


which  the  Peterboro  station  was  connected  was  the  Elmira 
route.  In  1844,  John  W.  Jones,  an  escaped  slave  from 
Virginia,  settled  in  Elmira,  and  began,  together  with  Mr. 
Jervis  Langdon,  a  prominent  citizen  of  the  town,  to  receive 
fugitives.  A  few  years  later  the  Northern  Central  Railroad 
was  constructed,  and  supplied  a  means  of  travel  through 
western  New  York  to  Niagara  Falls.  Underground  passen- 
gers forwarded  by  rail  from  Philadelphia,  Harrisburg  and 
Williamsport  were  sent  on  via  the  Northern  Central  to 
Canada.i  In  the  counties  of  New  York  west  and  south  of 
the  Elmira  route  the  map  shows  some  disconnected  stations 
and  sections  of  Road.  Not  enough  is  known  about  these  to 
suggest  with  certainty  their  connections.  It  is,  however, 
evident  that  their  trend  is  toward  the  short  arm  of  the  Prov- 
ince of  Ontario,  which  is  separated  from  the  United  States 
only  by  the  Niagara  River,  with  crossings  favorable  for  fugi- 
tives at  Buffalo,  Black  Rock,  Suspension  Bridge  and  Lewis- 
ton.  In  the  angle  of  southwestern  New  York  there  were  two 
routes,  the  objective  point  of  which  was  Buffalo.  One  of 
these,  by  way  of  Westfield  and  Fredonia,  hugged  closely  the 
shore  of  Lake  Erie ;  ^  the  other,  issuing  by  way  of  the  Alle- 
ghany River  from  Franklin,  Pennsylvania,  ran  through 
Jamestown  and  Ellington  to  Leon,  where  it  branched,  one 
division  going  to  Fredonia  and  so  on  northward,  whilst  the 
other  seems  to  have  followed  a  more  direct  course  to  Buf- 

Notwithstanding  the  unfavorable  position  for  this  work  of 
the  New  England  states,  a  considerable  number  of  fugitive 
slaves  found  their  way  through  these  states  to  Canada.  A 
part  of  them  came  through  Pennsylvania  and  New  York. 
Smedley  states,  as  already  noted,  that  hundreds  were  sent 
from  Wilmington,  Columbia,  and  other  points  to  the  New 

-  Letters  of  Mrs.  Susan  L.  Crane,  Elmira,  N.Y.,  Sept.  14  and  23,  1896. 
Mrs.  Crane  is  a  daughter  of  Mr.  Jervis  Langdon  mentioned  in  the  text;  letter 
of  John  W.  Jones,  Elmira,  N.Y.,  Dec.  14,  1896. 

*  A  number  of  the  stations  along  the  lake  shore  are  named  in  the  sketches 
called  "Romances  and  Realities  of  the  Underground  Railroad,"  by  H.  U. 
Johnson,  printed  in  the  Lakeshore  and  Home  Magazine,  1885-1887. 

'  E.  M.  Pettit,  in  Sketches  in  the  History  of  the  Underground  Bailroai, 
pp.  30,  31,  32,  gives  an  instance  of  the  use  of  this  route. 


England  states  and  Canada.^  Another  part  came  by  boat 
from  Southern  ports  to  the  shores  of  New  England,  landing 
at  various  places,  chief  among  which  seem  to  have  been  New 
Haven,  New  Bedford,  Boston  and  Portland.  Such  was  the 
number  of  arrivals  and  consequent  demand  for  transportation 
to  a  place  of  safety,  that  these  four  places  became  the  begin- 
nings of  routes,  which  it  has  been  possible  to  trace  on  the 
map  with  more  or  less  completeness. 

The  first  of  these  may  be  called  the  Connecticut  valley 
route.  President  E.  B.  Andrews,  of  Brown  University, 
whose  father  was  an  active  friend  of  slaves  at  IMontague  in 
western  Massachusetts,  describes  this  route  as  running  from 
New  York,  New  Haven,  or  New  London  up  the  Connecticut 
River  valley  to  Canada.^  This  is  corroborated  by  some 
writer  in  the  History  of  Springfield,  Massachusetts,  where  it  is 
noted  that  there  was  a  steady  movement  of  parties  of  run- 
aways up  the  valley  on  their  way  to  the  adjacent  provinces.^ 
Mr.  Erastus  F.  Gunn,  of  Montague,  Massachusetts,  writes 
that  the  travel  along  this  route  was  largely  confined  to  the 
west  side  of  the  river,  and  was  through  Springfield,  North- 
ampton and  Greenfield  into  the  State  of  Vermont.*  Fugi- 
tives disembarking  at  New  Haven  ^  went  north  through 
Kensington,  New  Britain  and  Farmington,  and  probably  by 
way  of  Bloomfield  or  Hartford  to  Springfield.  Sometimes 
they  came  up  the  river  by  steamboat  to  Hartford,  the  head  of 
navigation,  and  continued  their  journey  overland.^  A  trail 
probably  much  less  used  than  the  routes  just  mentioned, 
seems  to  have  connected  the  southwestern  part  of  Connecti- 
cut with  the   valley  route.^    In   Massachusetts  there  were 

1  See  p.  120,  this  chapter. 

2  Letter  of  Mr.  Andrews,  Providence,  E.I.,  April,  1895. 
8  Pp.  470,  471. 

*  Letter  of  Mr.  Gunn,  Montague,  Mass.,  Nov.  23,  1895. 

5  Letter  of  Simeon  E.  Baldwin,  New  Haven,  Conn.,  Jan.  27,  1896  ;  letter 
of  Simeon  D.  Gilbert,  New  Haven,  Conn.,  Feb.  27,  1896. 

*  Letter  of  D.  W.  C.  Pond,  New  Britain,  Conn.  Mr.  Pond  is  one  of  the 
surviving  agents  of  New  Britain. 

'Letters  of  George  B.  Wakeman,  Montour  Palls,  N.Y.,  April  21  and 
Sept.  26,  1896.  Letter  of  the  Rev.  Erastus  Blakeslee,  Boston,  Mass., 
Aug.  28,  1896. 


ramifications  from  tlie  valley  route,^  which  may  have  termi- 
nated among  the  hills  in  the  western  part  of  the  state,  for  all 
that  one  can  now  discover. 

A  line  of  Road  originating  at  New  Bedford  in  southeastern 
Massachusetts  is  mentioned  in  connection  with  the  line  up 
the  Connecticut  valley  by  the  Hon.  M.  M.  Fisher,  of  Med- 
way,  Massachusetts,  as  one  of  the  more  common  routes.^ 
Mrs.  Elizabeth  Buffum  Chace  says  that  slaves  landing  on 
Cape  Cod  went  to  New  Bedford,  whence  under  the  guidance 
of  some  abolitionist  they  were  conveyed  to  the  home  of 
Nathaniel  P.  Borden  at  Fall  River.  Between  this  station 
and  the  one  kept  by  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Chace  at  Valley  Falls, 
Robert  Adams  acted  as  conductor;  and  from  Valley  Falls 
Mr.  Chace  was  in  the  habit  of  accompanying  passengers  a 
short  distance  over  the  Providence  and  Worcester  Railroad 
until  he  had  placed  them  in  the  care  of  some  trusted  em- 
ployee of  that  road  to  be  transferred  at  Worcester  to  the  Ver- 
mont Railroad.^  The  Rev.  Joshua  Young  was  receiving 
agent  at  Burlington,  Vermont,  and  testifies  that  during  his 
residence  there  he  and  his  friend  and  parishioner,  L.  H. 
Bigelow,  did  "considerable  business."  *  South  of  Burlington 
there  was  a  series  of  stations  not  connected  with  the  Ver- 
mont Central  Railroad  extension  of  the  New  Bedford  route. 
The  names  of  these  stations  have  been  obtained  from  Mr. 
Rowland  E.  Robinson,  whose  father's  house  was  a  refuge  for 
fugitives  at  Ferrisburg,  Vermont,  and  from  the  Hon.  Joseph 
Poland,  the  editor  of  the  first  anti-slavery  newspaper  in  his 
state,  who  was  himself  an  agent  of  the  Underground  Road  at 
Montpelier.  The  names  are  those  of  nine  towns,  which  form 
a  line  roughly  parallel  to  the  west  boundary  of  the  state, 
namely,  North  Ferrisburg,  Ferrisburg,  Vergennes,  Middle- 
bury,    Brandon,    Rutland,    Wallingford,    Manchester    and 

1  The  stations,  as  indicated  on  the  map,  are  named  in  letters  from  L.  S. 
Abell  and  Charles  Parsons,  Conway,  Mass.;  C.  Barrus,  Springfield,  Mass.; 
Judge  D.  W.  Bond,  Cambridge,  Mass.;  and  Arthur  G.  Hill,  Boston,  Mass. 
See  also  article  on  "The  Underground  Railway,"  by  Joseph  Marsh,  in  the 
Sistory  of  Florence,  Massachusetts,  pp.  165-167. 

2  Letter  of  Mr.  Fisher,  Oct.  23,  1893. 

'  Anti-Slavery  Seminiscences,  pp.  27,  28. 

*  Letter  of  Mr.  Young,  Groton,  Mass.,  April  21,  1893. 

The  cave  on  the  left  was  a  rendezvous  for  fugitives. 




Bennington.^  They  constituted  what  may  be  called  the  west 
Vermont  route,  Bennington  being  at  the  southern  extremity, 
where  escaped  slaves  were  received  from  Troy,  New  York.^ 
The  terminal  at  the  northern  end  of  this  route  was  St. 
Albans,  whence  runaways  could  be  hastened  across  the 
Canadian  frontier.  The  valley  of  the  lower  Connecticut 
seems  to  have  yielded  a  sufficient  supply  of  fugitive  slaves  to 
sustain  a  vigorous  line  of  Road  in  eastern  Vermont.  It  was 
over  this  line  the  travellers  came  that  were  placed  in  hiding 
in  the  office  of  Editor  Poland  at  Montpelier,  having  made 
their  way  northward  with  the  aid  of  friends  at  Brattleboro, 
Chester,  Woodstock,  Randolph  and  intermediate  points.  At 
Montpelier  the  single  path  divided  into  three  branches,  one 
extending  westward  and  uniting  with  the  west  Vermont 
route  at  Burlington,  another  running  northward  into  the 
Queen's  dominions  by  way  of  Morristown  and  other  stations, 
and  the  third  zigzagging  to  New  Port,  where  a  pass  through 
the  mountains  admitted  the  zealous  pilgrims  to  the  coveted 
possession  of  their  own  liberty.* 

Having  thus  sketched  in  the  Vermont  lines  of  Underground 
Railroad,  it  is  necessary  for  us  to  return  to  the  consideration 
of  the  New  Bedford  route,  which  had  some  accessory  lines 
near  its  source.  One  of  these  had  stations  at  Newport  and 
Providence,  managed  by  Quakers  —  Jethro  and  Anne  Mitchell 
with  others  in  the  former,  and  Daniel  Mitchell  in  the  latter.* 
Another  was  a  short  line  through  Windham  County,  in  the 
northeastern  part  of  Connecticut,  to  Uxbridge,  where  it  joined 
the  main  line.^  The  Rev.  Samuel  J.  May,  who  was  a  resident 
of  Brooklyn,  Connecticut,  in  the  early  thirties,  had  fugitives 
addressed  to  his  care  at  that  time,  and  he  helped  them  on  to 
Effingham  L.  Capron  while  he  lived  in  Uxbridge,  and  after- 

1  Letter  of  Mr.  Robinson,  Feixisburg,  Vt.,  Aug.  19,  1896;  letter  of  Mr. 
Poland,  Montpelier,  Vt.,  April  12,  1897. 

2  Letter  of  Mr.  Bramerd,  St.  Albans,  Vt,  Oct.  21,  1895. 

«  Letters  of  Mrs.  Abijah  Keitb,  Chicago,  Dl.,  March  28,  and  April  4, 1897  ; 
letters  of  Mr.  Poland,  April  7  and  12,  1897. 

*  Letter  of  James  S.  Rogers,  Chicago,  HI.,  April  17,  1897. 

'Letters  of  Joel  Fox,  Willimantic,  Conn.,  July  30,  1896,  and  Aug.  3, 


wards  when  he  settled  in  Worcester.^  From  Boston  ^  west- 
ward there  were  at  least  two  paths  to  reach  the  New  Bedford 
road,  one  of  these  was  by  way  of  Newton  to  Worcester,  and 
the  other  through  Concord  to  Leominster.  Mr.  William  I. 
Bowditch  generally  passed  on  the  fugitives  received  at  his 
house  to  Mr.  William  Jackson,  of  Newton,  thence  they  were 
sent  by  rail  to  Worcester.^  Colonel  T.  W.  Higginson  writes 
that  fugitives  were  sometimes  sent  from  Boston  to  Worcester,* 
while  he  lived  in  the  latter  place,  and  that  he  has  himself 
driven  them  at  midnight  to  the  farm  of  the  veteran  abolition- 
ists, Stephen  and  Abby  Kelley  Foster,  in  the  suburbs  of  the 
city.®  All  along  the  short  route,  from  Boston  to  Leominster 
and  Fitchburg,  stations  were  systematically  arranged,  accord- 
ing to  the  statement  of  Mrs.  Mary  E.  Crocker,^  who  was  one 
of  the  helpers  at  Leominster.'^'  This  was  the  route  taken  by 
Shadrach,  after  his  rescue  in  Boston.^ 

Boston  was  the  starting-point  of  longer  lines  running  north 
along  the  coast ;  one,  so  far  as  can  now  be  made  out,  turning 
and  passing  obliquely  across  New  Hampshire ;  the  other  fol- 
lowing the  shore  into  Maine.  Mr.  Simeon  Dodge,  of  Marble- 
head,  Massachusetts,  who  had  intimate  knowledge  of  the  first 
of  these  courses,  gives,  in  an  illustrative  case,  the  names  of 
Marblehead,  Salem  and  Georgetown  as  stations ;  ^  and  Mr.  G. 
W.  Putnam,  of  Lynn,  gives  the  names  of  persons  harboring 

1  Some  Becollections  of  our  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  p.  297. 

2  "In  Boston  there  were  many  places  where  fugitives  were  received  and 
taken  care  of.  Every  anti-slavery  man  was  ready  to  protect  them,  and 
among  these  were  some  families  not  known  to  be  anti-slavery."  James 
Freeman  Clarke,  Anti-Slavery  Days,  p.  86. 

8  Letter  of  Mr.  Bowditch,  Boston,  April  5,  1893. 

*  Letter  of  Mr.  Higginson,  Glimpsewood,  Dublin,  N.H.,  July  24,  1896. 

*  T.  W.  Higginson,  Atlantic  Monthly,  March,  1897. 

5  Article  on  "The  Fugitive  Slave  Law  and  Its  "Workings,"  in  Fitchburg 
Daily  Sentinel,  Oct.  31,  1893. 

'  Letter  of  Mr.  F.  B.  Sanborn,  Concord,  Mass.,  Feb.  1,  1896,  states  that 
"  Concord  was  a  place  of  resort  for  fugitives."  Letter  of  Mr.  S.  Shurtleff, 
South  Paris,  Me.,  May  25,  1896,  states  that  "  The  direct  line  of  the  Under- 
ground Railroad  was  from  Boston  through  Vermont,  via  St.  Albans." 

8  Atlantic  Monthly,  March,  1897,  p.  345 ;  Fitchburg  Daily  Sentinel, 
Oct.  31,  1893 ;  letter  of  Mr.  Sanborn,  Concord,  Mass.,  Feb.  1,  1896. 

»  Letter  of  Mr.  Dodge,  March,  1893. 


slaves  at  two  of  these  places.^  A  report  of  the  Danvers  His- 
torical Society  is  authority  for  the  statement  that  Mr.  Dodge, 
together  with  some  of  the  abolitionists  of  Salem,  maintained 
a  secret  thoroughfare  to  Canada,^  which  passed  through  Dan- 
vers, and  on  through  Concord,  New  Hampshire.^  From  Con- 
cord fugitives  were  sent  north  to  Canterbury  and  Meredith 
Ridge*  in  two  known  instances,  and  more  frequently,  it  ap- 
pears, to  Canaan  and  Lyme.  James  Furber,  who  lived  in 
Canaan  for  several  years,  is  said  to  have  made  trips  to  Lyme 
about  once  a  fortnight  with  refugees  received  by  him.*  From 
Lyme  they  may  have  gone  north  by  way  of  the  Connecticut 
valley.  At  Salem  the  coast  route  parted  company  with  the 
New  Hampshire  route,  and  ran  on  through  Ipswich,  Newbury- 
port  and  Exeter  ^  to  Eliot,  Maine,  and  perhaps  farther. 

Slaves  sometimes  reached  Portland,  Maine,  travelling  as 
stowaways  on  vessels  from  Southern  ports.  Consequently 
Portland  became  the  centre  of  several  hidden  routes  to  Can- 
ada. Mr.  S.  T.  Pickard,  who  lived  in  the  family  of  Mrs. 
Oliver  Dennett  in  Portland,  says  that  Mrs.  Dennett  harbored 
runaway  slaves,  as  did  also  Nathan  Winslow  and  General 
Samuel  Fessenden.  The  fugitives  that  came  to  Portland,  he 
says,  were  on  their  way  to  New  Brunswick  and  Lower  Canada, 
and  some  were  shipped  directly  to  England.'^  Mr.  Brown 
Thurston,  the  veteran  abolitionist  of  Portland,  is  authority  for 
the  statement  that  routes  extended  from  Portland  to  the  prov- 
inces, by  water  to  St.  John,  New  Brunswick,  and  by  rail  to 
Montreal,*  the  road  used  being  the  Grand  Trunk.®  An  im- 
portant overland  route  also  had  its  origin  at  Portland.  Its 
two  branches  encircled  Sebago  Lake,  united  at  Bridgton, 
and  formed  a  single  pathway  to  the  northwest,  and  did  not 

1  Letter  of  Mr.  Putnam,  Lynn,  Mass.,  Feb.  14,  1894. 

2  Old  Anti-Slavery  Days,  p.  150. 

•  Letter  of  David  Mead,  Davenport,  Mass.,  Nov.  3,  1893. 

*  Letter  of  Judge  Mellen  Chamberlain,  Chelsea,  Mass.,  Feb.  1,  1896. 
'  Letter  of  C.  E.  Lord,  Franklin,  Pa.,  July  6,  1896. 

'  Letter  of  D.  L.  Brigham,  Manchester,  Mass.,  Nov.  16,  1893 ;  letter  of 
Prof essor  Marshall  S.  Snow,  Washington  University,  St.  Louis,  Mo.,  April  28, 
1896.  7  Letter  of  Mr.  Pickard,  Portland,  Me.,  Nov.  18,  1893. 

'  Letter  of  Mr.  Thurston,  Jan.  13,  1893. 

'  Letter  of  Mr.  Thurston,  Oct.  21,  1895 ;  letter  of  Aaron  Dunn,  South 
Paris,  Me.,  April  9,  1896. 


separate  again  until  the  eastern  border  of  Vermont  was 
reached.  There,  at  Lunenburg,  one  branch  took  its  course 
up  the  Connecticut  valley  to  Stratford,  and  thence,  probably, 
ran  to  Stanstead,  Quebec ;  while  the  other,  passing  more  to 
the  westward,  joined  the  easternmost  of  the  branches  from 
Montpelier,  Vermont,  at  Barton,  and  so  entered  Canada.^ 
Besides,  there  were  at  least  two  subsidiary  routes,  which  were 
probably  feeders  of  the  "through  line  "  just  described.  One 
of  them  ran  to  South  Paris  and  Lovell ;  ^  the  other,  accord- 
ing to  ex-President  O.  B.  Cheney,  of  Bates  College,  who  was 
privy  to  its  operations,  ran  to  Effingham,  North  Parsonsfield 
and  Porter.^  Both  Lovell  and  Porter  are  within  a  few  miles 
of  several  of  the  stations  that  form  a  part  of  the  Maine 
section  of  this  line,  and  could  witnesses  be  found  it  is  likely 
that  their  testimony  would  sustain  the  view  that  external 
evidence  suggests. 

In  the  free  states  included  between  the  Ohio  and  the  Mis- 
sissippi rivers  the  number  of  underground  trails  was  much 
greater  than  in  the  states  farther  east.  Bordering  on  the 
slave  states,  Missouri,  Kentucky  and  Virginia,  with  a  length 
of  frontier  greatly  increased  by  the  sinuosities  of  the  rivers, 
the  states  of  Ohio,  Indiana  and  Illinois  were  the  most  favor- 
ably situated  of  all  the  Northern  states  to  receive  fugitive 
slaves.  Not  only  the  bounding  rivers  themselves,  but  also 
their  numerous  tributaries,  became  channels  of  escape  into 
free  territory,  and  connected  directly  with  many  lines  of 
Underground  Railroad.  These  lines  of  Road  are  shown  on 
the  map  as  starting  from  the  Ohio  or  the  Mississippi,  but  they 
cannot  be  supposed  to  have  abruptly  originated  there,  for  in 
some  instances  there  were  points  south  of  these  streams  that 
formed  an  essential  part  of  the  system.  It  is  impossible  to 
bring  together  here  the  numerous  bits  of  testimony  through 
the  correlation  of  which  the  multitude  of  lines  within  the  old 
Northwest  Territory  has  been  traced.  Only  a  general  survey, 
therefore,  of  the  Underground  Railroad  system  in  the  Western 
states  will  be  undertaken,  while  several  smaller  maps  of  limited 

1  Letter  of  J.  MUton  Hall,  April  30,  1897. 

2  Letter  of  S.  Shurtleff,  May  25,  1896. 

'  Letter  of  Mr.  Cheney,  Pawtuxet,  R.I.,  April  8,  1896. 


areas  will  give  the  details  of  the  multiple  and  complex  routes 
found  therein. 

/^Concerning  the  number  of  paths  there  were  in  Ohio  it  is 
■  almost  impossible  to  obtain  a  definite  and  correct  idea.  The 
location  of  the  state  was  favorable  to  the  development  of  new 
Unas  with  the  steady  increase  in  the  number  of  slaves  fleeing 
across  its  southern  borders ;  and,  in  the  process  of  development, 
it  was  natural  that  the  various  branches  should  intertwine 
and  form  a  great  network.  To  disentangle  the  strands  of 
this  web  and  say  how  many  there  were  is  a  thing  not  easy  to 
accomplish,  although  an  anonymous  writer  in  1842  seems  to 
have  found  little  or  no  difficulty  in  arriving  at  a  definite 
conclusion.  His  estimate  appeared  in  the  Uxperiment  of 
December  7,  and  is  as  follows:  "It  is  evident  from  the 
statements  of  the  abolitionists  themselves,  that  there  exist 
some  eighteen  or  nineteen  thoroughly  organized  thorough- 
fares through  the  State  of  Ohio  for  the  transportation  of  run- 
away and  stolen  slaves,  one  of  which  passes  through  Fitchville, 
and  which  to  my  certain  knowledge  has  done  a  '  land  office 
business.' "  ^  If  the  number  of  important  initial  stations  fring- 
ing the  southern  and  eastern  boundaries  of  Ohio  be  counted 
as  the  points  of  origin  of  separate  routes,  it  would  be  correct 
to  say  that  there  were  not  less  than  twenty-two  or  twenty- 
three  routes  in  Ohio,  but  in  a  count  thus  made  one  would 
fail  to  note  the  instances  in  which,  as  in  the  case  of  Cincinnati, 
several  lines  sprang  from  one  locality. 

In  the  remaining  portion  of  the  Northwest  Territory,  the 
number  of  lines  was  relatively  not  so  great;  and  extended 
areas,  as  in  the  western  and  northern  parts  of  Indiana  or  the 
southeastern  part  of  Illinois,  contained  few  or  no  lines  so  far 
as  can  now  be  discovered.  In  western  and  northern  Illinois 
the  conditions  were  more  favorable,  and  the  multiplicity  of 
routes  is  such  that  on  account  of  the  fusion,  division  and  sub- 
division of  roads  it  is  impossible  to  say  how  many  lines  crossed 
the  state.  In  Michigan  the  case  is  not  so  complicated,  and 
one  can  trace  with  some  clearness  six  or  seven  paths  leading 
to  Detroit.  Iowa,  not  a  part,  however,  of  the  old  Northwest 
Territory,  was  traversed  by  lines  terminating  in  Illinois,  and 

1  The  Firelands  Pioneer,  July,  1888,  p.  67. 



therefore  deserves  consideration  here.  In  the  southeastern 
part  of  the  state  there  were  several  short  routes  with  initial 
stations  at  Croton,  Bloomfield,  Lancaster  and  Cincinnati, 
all  of  which  had  terminals  no  doubt  along  the  Mississippi, 
though  it  has  been  possible  to  complete  but  two  of  the 
routes.     In  southwestern  Iowa,  Percival  and  the  three  roads 

branching  from  it 
are  said  to  have 
supplied  means  of 
egress  for  slaves 
from  Missouri  and 
Nebraska  through 
three  tiers  of  coun- 
ties ranging  across 
the  state  in  lines 
parallel  with  the 
north  boundary  of 
Missouri.  John 
Brown  took  the 
northernmost  of 
these  parallel  roads 
in  the  winter  of 
1858  and  1859, 
when  he  led  a 
company  of  twelve 
fugitives  from  Mis- 
souri through  Kan- 
sas to  Percival  on 
their  way  to  Chi- 
cago and  Detroit. 
Of  the  local 
maps,  the  first  rep- 
resents the  lines  passing  through  a  portion  of  Morgan  County, 
in  the  southeastern  part  of  Ohio.  It  was  drawn  by  Mr.  Thomas 
Williams,  whose  services  in  behalf  of  runaways  made  him  fa- 
miliar with  the  location  of  operators  in  the  western  part  of  his 
county.^     The  area  represented  is  twenty-five  miles  in  length 

1  Corroborative  evidence  as  regards  the  routes  of  Morgan  County  is  found 
in  letters  from  the  following  persons  :  E.  M.  Stanberry,  McConnellsville,  0., 

Undeeqround  Lines  of  Morgan  County,  Ohio. 
Drawn  by  Thomas  Williams. 


and  sixteen  in  -width  at  the  widest  part,  and  contains  nineteen 
stations  including  the  towns  through  which  routes  passed. 
The  irregular  distribution  of  these  stations,  and  the  way  in 
which  trips  could  be  varied  from  one  to  another  to  suit  the  con- 
venience of  conductors  or  to  elude  pursuers  is  apparent.  The 
fugitives  that  travelled  over  these  routes  crossed  the  Ohio 
River  in  the  vicinity  of  Parkersburg  and  Point  Pleasant,  in 
what  is  now  West  Virginia,  and  proceeded  north  twenty  or 
thirty  miles  by  the  help  of  abolitionists  before  reaching 
Morgan  County.  The  southern  part  of  this  county  was 
traversed  by  two  parallel  lines,  one  of  which  branched  at  Ros- 
seau  and  ran  on  in  parallels  to  the  northern  part  of  the  county 
whence  after  sharp  deflection  to  the  west  the  branches  con- 
verged at  Deavertown  ;  the  other  issued  from  its  first  station 
in  three  divergent  lines,  which  rapidly  converged  at  Penns- 
ville  and  were  united  by  a  single  course  to  the  first  route. 
In  case  of  emergency  a  guide  used  his  knowledge  and  discre- 
tion as  to  whether  he  should  "  cut  across  lots,"  skip  stations, 
travel  by  the  "longest way  around,"  or  go  back  on  his  track. 
The  houses  noted  on  the  map  as  being  off  the  regular  routes 
appear  to  have  been  emergency  stations  and  hence  not  so 
frequently  used. 

A  special  map  of  exceeding  interest  and  importance  is  that 
drawn  by  Mr.  Lewis  Falley,  of  La  Fayette,  Indiana,  showing 
the  underground  lines  of  Indiana  and  IMichigan  about  1848. 
Mr.  Falley's  acquaintance  with  the  Road  came  about  through 
the  work  of  his  father  in  the  interest  of  fugitives  in  La  Fay- 
ette after  1841.  Subsequently  Mr.  Falley  learned  of  the 
lines  traversing  his  state  through  an  itinerant  preacher  who 
sometimes  stopped  as  a  guest  at  his  father's  house.  When 
Mr.  Falley's  map  was  received  in  March,  1896,  the  author 
himself  had  already  plotted  from  other  testimony  a  number 
of  routes  in  southern  and  eastern  Indiana  and  in  Michigan, 
and  a  comparison  of  maps  was  made.  On  Mr.  Falley's  map 
three  main  roads  appear,  the  eastern,  middle  and  western 
routes.     The  first  of  these  ran  parallel,  roughly  speaking, 

Nov.  1,  1892;  T.  L.  Gray,  Deavertown,  O.,  Dec.  2,  1892;  Martha  Millions, 
Pennsville,  0.,  March  9, 1892  ;  E.  B.  Brown,  Sugar  Grove,  O.  ;  H.  C.  Harvey, 
Manchester,  Kan.,  Jan.  16,  1893. 



with  the  eastern  boundary  line  of  the  state  only  a  few  miles 
from  it,  and  took  its  rise  from  two  lesser  paths,  which  con- 
verged at  Richmond  from 
either  side  of  the  state 
line.  The  second  or  mid- 
dle route  sprang  from 
three  branches  that 
crossed  the  Ohio  at  Madi- 
son, New  Albany,  and  the 
neighborhood  of  Leaven- 
worth, passed  north 
through  Indianapolis  and 
Logansport,  and  entered 
Michigan  a  few  miles  east 
of  Lake  Michigan.  The 
third  or  western  route 
followed  up  the  Wabash 
River  to  La  Fayette, 
where  it  crossed  the 
river,  proceeded  to  Rens- 
selaer, and  thence  north- 
easterly to  the  Michigan 
line,  making  its  entrance 
to  Michigan  at  the  point 
where  the  middle  route 
entered  that  state.  From 
the  two  crossing-places  on  the  Michigan  border  the  northern 
extensions  of  the  Indiana  routes  found  their  way  to  Battle 
Creek,  from  which  station  one  trail  led  directly  east  to 
Detroit,  and  the  other,  by  a  more  northerly  course,  to  Port 
Huron.  In  southern  Indiana  the  eastern  route  was  con- 
nected with  the  middle  route  by  a  branch  between  Greens- 
burg  and  Indianapolis,  and  the  middle  with  the  western  by 
two  branches,  one  between  Salem  and  Evansville,  and  the 
other  between  Brownstown  and  Bloomingdale. 

In  the  general  map  prepared  by  the  author,  the  southern 
route  through  Michigan  to  Detroit,  and  the  eastern,  middle, 
and  a  portion  of  the  western  routes  in  Indiana  on  the  map  of 
Mr.  Falley  are  duplicated  with  more  or  less  completeness. 

taiH^MfW^lSkDoicalDUles.^  ,^^^U)nteniot  well  established.    «hm 

IN  1848. 

As  traced  by  Lewis  Falley. 



The  initial  stations  along  tlie  Ohio  River  correspond  in  the 
two  maps  almost  exactly,  and  many  of  the  way-stations  seen 
on  the  one  map  are  to  be  found  on  the  other.  It  is  not  to 
be  expected  that  the  two  maps  would  agree  in  all  particulars, 
and  some  stations  occur  on  each  that  are  not  to  be  found  on 
the  other.  Such  differences  are  due  to  the  development  of 
new  or  the  obliteration  of  old 
lines  and  the  insufficient  know- 
ledge of  the  draughtsmen.  It  is 
not  known  that  a  map  similar  to 
Mr.  Falley's  has  been  devised  for 
any  other  state  or  states  among 
the  many  through  which  well- 
defined  underground  routes  ex- 

From  a  drawing  made  by  Mr. 
W.  B.  Fyffe,  an  old-time  station- 
agent  of  Ottawa,  Illinois,  the 
accompanying  chart  of  a  line  of 
escape  through  Livingston  and 
La  Salle  counties  in  Illinois  is 
reproduced.  The  portion  of  the 
trail  represented  is  about  forty 
miles  in  length,  and  is  remarkable 
for  the  directness  of  its  course 
and  the  absence  of  interlacing 
lines.  At  Ottawa,  the  northern- 
most station  shown,  the  trail 
loses  these  two  characteristics, 
for  it  makes  there  a  sharp  turn 
on  its  way  to  the  terminus,  Chi- 
cago, and  at  Ottawa  also  it  makes 
a  junction  with  several  other  lines  from  the  western  part 
of  the  state.^ 

A  number  of  noteworthy  features  appear  on  the  general 

map.     The  first  deserving  mention  is  the  direction  or  trend 

of  the  underground  lines.     The  region  traversed  by  these 

lines  may  be  described  as  an  irregular  crescent,  the  concavity 

1  For  these  features  see  the  general  map. 

Simple  Route  thkough  Ltvtng- 


DrawB  hy  William  B.  Fylfe. 



of  which  is  in  part  filled  by  a  portion  of  Ontario,  Canada, 
which  by  reason  of  its  proximity  became  the  goal  of  the  great 
majority  of  runaways.  In  the  New  England  states  the  direc- 
tion of  the  underground  paths  was,  with  perhaps  an  exception 
or  two,  from  southeast  to  northwest,  their  objective  point  be- 

CoUin'^  Place 

Port  William 
I  Rev.Fergruson 
ifjoel  P.Davis 
l\  A.  Allen 
ll  David  Allen 

S^Oakland-jivl.,  s.,  J..and  W.  Srooie 

i    »"^  I  \j.,d:H.D.  Thompson   I 

—-  ■  ^^    B  [Ed.  Kinsey  j 

totemasjNickerson'jl  Wilmington 
Station  I  I  \ 

O  I  L     I  I  K   T    O 
I        i  I      \ 


\  "WoodinaiiBee^a 
I  Place  \ 
I  \ 



\((ew  Vienna 

Drawn  by  Joel  P.  Davis. 

Added  branches -——---■ 

Network  of  Routes  through  Grbenb,  Warren  and  Clinton 
Counties,  Ohio. 

ing  Montreal.  The  main  lines  of  Pennsylvania  and  New  York 
ran  north  until  they  reached  the  middle  part  of  the  latter 
state,  and  then  veered  off  almost  directly  west  to  Canada. 
West  of  Pennsylvania  the  trend  of  the  routes  was  in  general 
to  northeast,  being  in  Ohio  and  Indiana  to  the  shores  of  Lake 


Erie,  and  in  Illinois  and  Iowa  to  the  southern  extremity  of 
Lake  Michigan.  Through  central  Iowa,  northern  Illinois 
and  southern  Michigan,  the  course  of  the  routes  was  almost 
directly  east. 

It  is  not  surprising  that  the  regions  through  which  the 
simplest  and  most  direct  routes  passed  should  have  been  those 
at  the  two  extremities  of  the  great  irregular  crescent  of  free 
soil,  where  the  number  of  routes  was  few  and  the  activity  of 
the  stations  limited.  In  the  states  that  formed  the  middle 
portion  of  the  crescent,  it  was  natural  that  multiple  and  intri- 
cate trails  should  have  been  developed.  The  fact  that  slave- 
owners and  their  agents  often  sallied  into  this  region  in  search 
of  missing  chattels  was  a  consideration  given  due  weight  by 
the  shrewd  operators,  who  early  learned  that  one  of  their  best 
safeguards  lay  in  complex  routes,  made  by  several  lines  radiat- 
ing from  one  centre,  or  branch  connections  between  routes,  by 
paths  that  zigzagged  from  station  to  station.  These  features 
were  characteristic,  and  serve  to  show  that  the  safety  of  fugi- 
tives was  never  sacrificed  by  the  abolitionists  to  any  thought- 
less desire  for  rapid  transit.  From  Cincinnati,  Ohio,  not  less 
than  four  branches  of  the  Road  radiated.  One  of  these  led 
to  Fountain  City,  Indiana,  where  it  was  joined  by  two  other 
important  lines.  From  this  point  four  lines  diverged  to  the 
north.  At  Oberlin  as  many  as  five  lines  converged  from  the 
south.  Quincy,  Illinois,  was  the  starting-point  of  four  or  five 
lines,  and  Knoxville,  Ottawa  and  Chicago  in  the  same  state 
each  received  fugitives  from  several  routes.  The  region  in 
which  the  devices  of  multiple  routes  and  cross  lines  were 
most  highly  developed  is,  as  far  as  known,  in  southeastern 

Some  broken  lines  and  isolated  place-names  occur  upon  the 
map.  For  example,  in  Iowa,  branches  of  the  system  have  been 
traced  to  Quincy,  Indianola,  North  English  and  Ottumwa, 
but  beyond  these  points  the  connections  cannot  be  made. 
Examples  of  such  incomplete  sections  will  be  found  also  in 
northern  and  central  Illinois,  in  central  Indiana,  in  western 
New  York,  in  central  and  eastern  Pennsylvania  and  in  other 
states.  It  is  not  to  be  supposed  that  the  routes  represented 
by  these  fragmentary  lines  terminated  abruptly  without  reach- 


ing  a  haven  of  safety,  but  only  that  the  witnesses  whose  testi- 
mony is  essential  to  complete  the  lines  have  not  been  discovered. 
In  the  case  of  the  isolated  place-names,  a  few  of  which  occur 
in  the  New  England  states,  in  New  York,  Pennsylvania, 
Indiana  and  Illinois,  the  evidence  at  hand  seemed  to  desig- 
nate them  as  stations,  without  indicating  in  any  definite  way 
the  neighboring  stations  with  which  they  were  probably  allied. 

On  the  general  map  may  be  noticed  a  few  long  stretches  of 
Road  that  had  apparently  no  way-stations.  Such  lines  are 
usually  identical  with  certain  rivers,  or  canals,  or  railway  sys- 
tems. It  has  already  been  seen  that  the  Connecticut  River 
served  to  guide  fugitives  north  on  their  way  to  Canada.^ 
The  Mississippi,  Illinois,  Ohio,  Alleghany,  and  Hudson  rivers 
united  stations  more  or  less  widely  separated.^  The  tow-paths 
of  some  of  our  western  canals  formed  convenient  highways 
to  liberty  for  a  considerable  number  of  self-reliant  fugitives, 
and  were  considered  safer  than  public  roads.  A  letter  from 
E.  C.  H.  Gavins,  of  Bloomfield,  Indiana,*  states  that  the 
Wabash  and  Erie  Canal  became  a  thoroughfare  for  slaves, 
who  followed  it  from  the  vicinity  of.Evansville,  Indiana,  until 
they  reached  Ohio,  probably  in  some  instances  going  as  far 
as  Toledo,  though  usually,  as  the  writer  believes,  striking 
off  on  one  or  another  of  several  established  lines  of  Under- 
ground Road  in  central  and  northern  Indiana.  James  Bay- 
liss,*  of  Massillon,  in  northeastern  Ohio,  states  that  fugitives 
sometimes  came  up  the  tow-path  of  the  canal  to  Massillon, 
knowing  that  the  canal  led  to  Cleveland,  whence  a  boat  could 
be  taken  for  Canada.^ 

The  identity  of  a  few  of  the  tracings  with  steam  railway 
lines  signifies,  of  course,  transportation  by  rail  when  the  situ- 
ation admitted  of  it.  Sometimes,  when  there  was  not  the 
usual  eagerness  of  pursuit,  and  when  the  intelligence  or  the 

1  See  p.  129,  this  chapter. 

2  See  the  language  of  Jefferson  Davis,  quoted  on  p.  312,  Chapter  X ;  letter 
of  A.  P.  Dutton,  Racine,  Wis.,  April  7,  1896 ;  E.  M.  Pettit,  Sketches  in  the 
History  of  the  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  29,  30,  31 ;  letter  of  Florence  and 
Cordelia  H.  Ray,  referred  to  on  p.  126,  this  chapter. 

'  Letter  of  Mr.  Cavins,  Dec.  6,  1895. 

*  Conversation  with  James  Bayliss,  Massillon,  O.,  Aug.  15,  1895. 

'  Letter  of  Brown  Thurston,  Portland,  Me.,  Oct.  21, 1895. 


Caucasian  cast  of  features  of  the  fugitive  warranted  it, 
the  traveller  was  provided  with  the  necessary  ticket  and  in- 
structions, and  put  aboard  the  cars  for  his  destination.  The 
Providence  and  Worcester  and  the  Vermont  Central  rail- 
roads furnished  quick  transportation  from  New  Bedford, 
Massachusetts,  to  Canada.^  In  southeastern  Pennsylvania 
the  Philadelphia  and  Reading  Railroad  carried  many  slaves 
on  their  way  to  freedom,  and  according  to  Smedley,  "  All 
who  took  the  trains  at  the  Reading  Railroad  stations  went 
directly  through  to  Canada."  ^  E.  F.  Pennypacker  often  for- 
warded negroes  from  Schuylkill  to  Philadelphia  over  this 
road,  and  William  StUl  sent  them  on  their  northward  jour- 
ney.^ Fugitives  arriving  at  Harrisburg,  Pennsylvania,  some- 
times took  passage  over  the  Northern  Central  Railroad  to 
Elmira,  New  York.  Mr.  Jervis  Langdon  and  John  W. 
Jones,  of  Elmira,  took  care  that  underground  passengers  se- 
cured transportation  from  Elmira  to  their  destination.  The 
fugitives  were  always  put  in  the  baggage-car  at  four  o'clock 
in  the  morning,*  and  went  through  without  change  to  the 
Niagara  River.  The  old  Mad  River  Railroad  bore  many 
dark-skinned  passengers  from  Urbana,  if  not  also  from  Cin- 
cinnati and  Dayton,  Ohio,  to  Lake  Erie.^  In  eastern  Ohio 
the  Cleveland  and  Western  Railroad,  from  Alliance  to  Cleve- 
land, was  much  patronized  during  several  years  by  instructed 
runaways.  Mr.  I.  Newton  Peirce,  then  living  in  Alliance, 
had  "  an  understanding  with  all  the  passenger-train  conduc- 
tors on  the  C.  and  W.  R.  R."  that  colored  persons  provided 
with  tickets  bearing  the  initials  I.  N.  P.  were  to  be  admitted 

1  See  p.  80,  Chapter  m. 

2  Underground  Railroad,  p.  174.     See  also  pp.  176, 177. 
s  Ibid.,  pp.  364,  365. 

Tlie  following  letter  from  Mr.  Pennypacker  to  Mr.  Still  explains  itself : 

"  Schuylkill,  11th  Mo.,  7th,  1857. 
"WiLLLAM  Still,  Respected  Friend,  —  There  are  three  colored  friends  at 
my  house  now,  who  will  reach  the  city  by  the  Philadelphia  and  Reading  train 
this  evening.     Please  meet  them. 

Thine,  etc. ,  E.  F.  Penntpackek. 

We  have  within  the  past  two  months  passed  forty-three  through  our  hands, 
transported  most  of  them  to  Norristown  in  our  own  conveyance.     E.  F.  P." 

4  Letter  of  Mr.  Jones,  Elmira,  N.Y.,  Jan.  16,  1897. 

5  See  p.  78,  Chapter  III. 


to  the  trains  without  question,  unless  slave-catchers  were 
thought  to  be  aboard  the  cars.^  Indiana  and  Michigan  are 
known  to  have  had  their  steam  railway  lines  in  the  secret 
service  system :  in  the  former  state  the  Louisville,  New 
Albany  and  Chicago  Railroad  was  utilized  by  operators  at 
CrawfordsviUe ;  ^  in  the  latter  the  Michigan  Central  sup- 
plied a  convenient  outlet  to  Detroit  from  stations  along  its 
course.^  The  Chicago  and  Rock  Island  Railroad  from  Peru, 
Lasalle  County,  Illinois,  to  Chicago  was  incorporated  in  the 
service,  so  also  was  the  Illinois  Central  from  Cairo  and  Cen- 
tralia  to  the  same  terminus.  The  Chicago,  Burlington  and 
Quincy  Railroad  sometimes  conveyed  fugitives  from  Quincy 
on  the  Mississippi  River  to  Chicago.  Two  men  of  promi- 
nence connected  with  this  road,  who  secured  transportation 
over  its  rails  for  many  Canada-bound  passengers,  were  Dr.  C. 
V.  Dyer,  of  Chicago,  and  Colonel  Berrien,  chief  engineer  of 
the  road.* 

Along  the  portion  of  the  Atlantic  coast  shown  on  the  map 
will  be  seen  long  lines  connecting  Southern  with  Northern 
ports.  These  represent  routes  to  liberty  by  sea.  It  is  re- 
ported by  a  station-keeper  of  Valley  Falls,  Rhode  Island, 
that  "  Slaves  in  Virginia  would  secure  passage  either  secretly 
or  with  the  consent  of  the  captains,  in  small  trading  vessels, 
at  Norfolk  or  Portsmouth,  and  thus  be  brought  into  some 
port  in  New  England,  where  their  fate  depended  on  circum- 
stances ;"  ^  and  the  reporter  gives  several  instances  coming 
within  her  knowledge  of  fugitives  that  escaped  from  Virginia 
to  Massachusetts  as  stowaways  on  vessels.^  Boats  engaged 
in  the  lumber  trade  sometimes  brought  refugees  from  New- 
berne,  North  Carolina,  to  Philadelphia.'^  Captain  Austin 
Bearse,  who  was  active  in  the  rescue  of  stowaways  from 
vessels  arriving  in  Boston  harbor  from  the  South,  cites  two 
instances  in  which  fugitives  came  by  sea  from  Wilmington, 

1  Letter  of  Mr.  Peiroe,  Folcroft,  Delaware  Co.,  Pa.,  Feb.  1,  1893. 

2  See  p.  79,  Chapter  in.  s  jftjfj. 

*  Life  and  Poems  of  John  Howard  Bryant,  p.  30.  Mr.  Bryant  made  a 
practice  of  receiving  fugitives  in  his  house  in  Princeton,  HI. 

6  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Buffum  Chace,  Anti-Slavery  Beminiscences,  p.  27. 

6  Ibid.,  pp.  28,  30. 

'  R.  C.  Smedley,  Underground  Railroad,  p.  356. 


Nortli  Carolina,  and  another  from  Jacksonville,  Florida.^ 
William  Still  gives  a  number  of  cases  of  escape  by  boat  from 
Ricbmond  and  Norfolk,  Virginia,  and  Wilmington,  North 
Carolina,  to  the  Vigilance  Committee  at  Philadelphia.^  Ne- 
groes arriving  in  New  York  City  and  coming  within  the 
horizon  of  Isaac  T.  Hopper's  knowledge  were  often  sent  by 
water  to  Providence  and  Boston.^ 

Of  the  terminal  stations  or  places  of  deportation  along  our 
northeastern  boundary,  there  are  not  less  than  twenty-four, 
and  probably  many  more.  Three  of  them,  Boston,  Portland 
and  St.  Albans,  were  located  in  the  New  England  states. 
Fugitives  were  probably  less  often  sent  directly  to  English 
soil  from  Boston  than  from  the  two  other  points,  and  in  the 
few  instances  of  which  we  have  any  hint,  with  perhaps  one 
exception,  the  passengers  so  sent  were  put  aboard  vessels 
sailing  for  England.  The  boats  running  between  Portland 
and  the  Canadian  provinces  were  freely  made  use  of  to  help 
slaves  to  their  freedom,  especially  as  the  emigrants  were  often 
provided  with  passes.  Sailing-vessels  also  furnished  free 
passage,  and  carried  the  majority  of  the  passengers  that  went 
from  Portland.*  St.  Albans  was  the  terminal  of  the  Vermont 
line.  Many  fugitives  were  received  and  cared  for  here,  and 
were  sent  on  by  private  conveyance  across  the  Canada  border 
before  the  Vermont  Central  Railroad  was  built.  Afterwards 
they  were  sent  by  rail,  through  the  intervention  of  the  Hon. 
Lawrence  Brainerd,  of  St.  Albans,  who  was  one  of  the  pro- 
jectors of  the  steam  railroad  and  largely  interested  in  it 

Along  the  northern   boundary  of  New  York  and  Penn- 

"^sylvania  there  seem  to  have  been  not  less  than  ten  resorts 

facing  the  Canadian  frontier.     These  were  Ogdensburg,®  Cape 

^  Eeminiscences  of  Fugitive-Slave  Lain  Days  in  Boston,  pp.  34,  36,  37. 
«  William  Still,  Underground  Mailroad  Records,  pp.  77, 142, 151, 163, 165, 
211,  etc. 

'  Letter  of  James  S.  Rogers,  Chicago,  Dl.,  April  17, 1897. 
*  Letter  of  Brown  Thurston,  Portland,  Me.,  Oct.  21,  1895. 

5  Letter  of  Aldis  O.  Brainerd,  St.  Albans,  Vt.,  Oct.  21,  1895. 

6  "  They  crossed  at  Detroit  and  at  Niagara  and  at  Ogdenshurg.  Of  those 
in  New  England,  some  went  np  through  Vermont,  some  fled  to  Maine,  and 
crossed  over  into  New  Brunswick."  F.  W.  Seward,  Seward  at  Washington 
as  Senator  and  Secretary  of  State,  Vol.  I,  p.  170. 


Vincent,  Port  Ontario,  Oswego,  some  port  near  Rochester, 
Lewiston,  Suspension  Bridge,  Black  Rock,  Buffalo,  Dunkirk 
Harbor  and  Erie.  Doubtless  the  most  important  of  these  cross- 
ing-places were  the  four  along  the  Niagara  River,  for  here 
the  most  travelled  of  the  routes  in  New  York  terminated.  The 
harbors  along  Lake  Ontario  and  the  one  on  the  St.  Lawrence 
River  appear  to  have  been  the  terminals  of  side-tracks  and 
branches  rather  than  of  main  lines  of  Road. 

Ohio  may  lay  claim  to  eight  terminal  stations,  all  compara- 
tively important.  The  best-known  of  these  appear  to  have 
been  Ashtabula  Harbor,  Painesville,  Cleveland,  Sandusky 
and  Toledo,  although  the  other  three,  Huron,  Lorain  and 
Conneaut,  may  be  supposed,  from  their  locations,  to  have 
done  a  thriving  business.  It  is  impossible  to  get  now  a  meas- 
ure of  the  eflBciency  of  these  various  ports,  for  the  period  dur- 
ing which  they  were  resorted  to  was  a  long  one,  and  operators 
were  obliged  to  work  more  or  less  independently,  and  ob- 
tained no  adequate  idea  of  the  number  emigrating  from  any 
one  point.  Custom-house  methods  were  not  followed  in  keep- 
ing account  of  the  negroes  exported  across  the  Canada  fron- 
tier. All  that  can  be  said  in  comparing  these  various  ports 
is  that  Ashtabula  Harbor,  Cleveland  and  Sandusky,  each 
seems  to  have  been  the  terminus  for  four  or  five  lines  of  Road, 
while  perhaps  only  two  or  three  lines  ended  at  Toledo  and 
Painesville,  and  one  each  at  Huron,  Lorain  and  Conneaut. 
Concerning  the  port  at  Huron  we  have  a  few  observations, 
made  by  Mr.  L.  S.  Stow,  who  lived  a  few  miles  from  Lake 
Erie  on  the  course  of  the  Milan  canal,  and  near  one  of  the 
managers  of  the  terminal,  on  whose  premises  fugitives  often 
awaited  the  appearance  of  a  Canada-bound  boat.  He  says : 
"We  used  to  see,  occasionally,  the  fugitives,  who  ventured 
out  for  exercise  while  waiting  for  an  opportunity  to  get  on 
one  of  the  vessels  frequently  passing  down  the  canal  and 
river  from  Milan,  during  the  season  of  navigation.  Many  of 
these  vessels  passed  through  the  Welland  Canal  on  their  way 
to  the  lower  Lakes,  and  after  leaving  the  harbor  at  Huron  the 
fugitives  were  safe  from  the  pursuit  of  their  masters  unless 
the  vessels  were  compelled  by  stress  of  weather  to  return  to 
harbor."  ^ 

1  The  Firelanda  Pioneer,  July,  1888,  pp.  80,  81. 



j4  "^(iSifc-T 

THE    DETROIT    RIVER,    AT    DETROIT,    MICHIGAN,    IN    1850, 

(From  an  engra\'ing  in  possession  of  C.  M.  Burton,  Esq.,  of  Detroit.) 


(From  n  photograph  in  possession  of  J.  D.  Hulbert,  Esq.,  of  Harbor,  Ohio.) 


Hundreds,  nay,  thousands  of  fugitives  found  crossing-places 
along  the  Detroit  River,  especially  at  the  city  of  Detroit. 
The  numerous  routes  of  Indiana  together  with  several  of  the 
chief  routes  of  western  Ohio  poured  their  passengers  into 
Detroit,  thence  to  be  transported  by  ferries  and  row-boats  to 
the  tongue  of  land  pressing  its  shore-line  for  thirty  miles  from 
Lake  Erie  to  Lake  St.  Clair  upon  the  very  borders  of  Michi- 
gan. The  movement  of  slaves  to  this  region  was  a  fact  of 
which  Southerners  early  became  apprised,  and  their  efforts 
to  recover  their  servants  as  these  were  about  to  enter  the 
Canaan  already  within  sight  were  occasionally  successful, 
although  the  majority  of  the  people  of  Detroit  ^  and  of  the 
surrounding  districts  rejoiced  to  see  the  slave-catchers  out- 

The  places  of  deportation  remaining  to  be  mentioned  are 
four,  along  the  southwestern  shore  of  Lake  Michigan,  namely, 
Milwaukee,  Racine,  South  Port  and  Chicago.  Of  these  the 
last-named  was,  doubtless,  the  most  important,  since  through 
it  chiefly  were  drained  off  the  fugitives  that  came  from  Mis- 
souri over  the  routes  of  Iowa  and  Illinois.  A  single  operator 
of  Chicago,  Mr.  Philo  Carpenter,  is  said  to  have  guided  not 
less  than  two  hundred  negroes  to  Canada-bound  vessels.^ 

The  lines  of  boat-service  to  the  Canadian  termini  require 
a  few  words  of  comment.  The  longest  line  of  travel  on  the 
lakes  was  that  connecting  the  ports  of  Wisconsin  and  Illinois 
with  Detroit  or  Amherstburg,^  and  was  only  approached  in 
length  by  the  route  from  Chicago  to  CoUingwood,  Ontario.* 
Five  hundred  miles  would  be  a  minimum  statement  of  the 
distance  refugees  were  carried  by  the  boats  of  abolitionist 
captains  from  these  westernmost  ports  to  their  havens  of  refuge. 
On  Lake  Erie  the  routes  were,  of  course,  much  shorter,  and 
ran  up  and  down  the  lake,  as  well  as  across  it.  Important 
routes  joined  Toledo,  Sandusky  and  Cleveland  to  Amherst- 
burg  and  Detroit  at  one  end  of  the  lake,  and  Dunkirk,  Ashta- 
bula Harbor,  Painesvijle    and   Cleveland  with  Buffalo  and 

*  Silas  Farmer,  History  of  Detroit  and  Michigan,  p.  346. 
^  Edward  G.  Mason,  Early  Chicago  and  Illinois,  p.  110. 

*  See  Chapter  m,  pp.  82,  83. 

*  Letter  of  John  G.  Weiblen,  Fairview,  Erie  Co.,  Pa.,  Nov.  26,  1895. 


Black  Rock  at  the  other  end  of  the  lake.  Certain  boats  run- 
ning on  these  routes  came  to  be  known  as  abolition  boats,  with 
ample  accommodations  for  underground  passengers.  Thus, 
we  are  told,  such  passengers  "  depended  on  a  vessel  named 
the  Arrow,  which  for  many  years  plied  between  Sandusky 
and  Detroit,  but  always  touched  first  at  Maiden,  Canada, 
where  the  fugitives  were  landed."^  Frequent  .use  was  also 
made  of  scows,  sail-boats  and  sharpies,  with  which  refugees 
could  be  "  set  across  "  the  lake,  and  landed  at  almost  any 
point  along  the  shore.  Small  vessels,  a  part  of  whose 
"freight"  had  been  received  from  the  Underground  Rail- 
road, were  often  despatched  to  Port  Burwell  in  the  night 
from  the  warehouse  of  Hubbard  and  Company,  forwarding  and 
commission  merchants  of  Ashtabula  Harbor.^  Similar  enter- 
prises were  carried  on  at  various  other  points  along  the  lake.^ 
So  far  as  known.  Lake  Ontario  had  only  a  few  comparatively 
insignificant  routes :  at  the  upper  end  of  the  lake  were  two, 
one  joining  Rochester  and  St.  Catherines,  the  other,  St.  Cathe- 
rines and  Toronto;  at  the  lower  end  of  the  lake,  Oswego, 
Port  Ontario  and  Cape  Vincent  seem  to  have  been  connected 
by  lines  with  Kingston. 

It  is  impossible  to  tell  how  many  cities,  towns  and  villages 
in  Canada  became  terminals  of  the  underground  system. 
Outside  of  the  interlake  region  of  Ontario  it  is  safe  to  name 
Kingston,  Prescott,  Montreal,  Stanstead  and  St.  John,  New 
Brunswick.  Within  that  region  the  terminals  were  numerous, 
being  scattered  from  the  southern  shore  of  Georgian  Bay  to 
Lake  Erie,  and  from   the  Detroit  and  Huron  rivers  to  the 

1  The  Firelands  Pioneer,  July,  1888,  p.  77. 

*  Conversation  with  Nelson  Watrous,  Harbor,  O.,  Aug.  8, 1892  ;  conversa- 
tion with  J.  D.  Hulbert,  Harbor,  O.,  Aug.  7,  1892. 

'  The  following  incident  given  by  Mr.  Rush  R.  Sloane  will  serve  as  an 
illustration:  "In  the  summer  of  1853,  four  fugitives  arrived  at  Sandusky. 
.  .  .  Mr.  John  Irvine  .  .  .  had  arranged  for  a  '  sharpee,'  a  small  sail-boat 
used  by  fishermen,  with  one  George  Sweigels,  to  sail  the  boat  to  Canada  with 
this  party,  for  which  service  Captain  Sweigels  was  to  receive  thirty-five  dol- 
lars. One  man  accompanied  Captain  Sweigels,  and  at  eight  o'clock  in  the 
evening  this  party  in  this  small  boat  started  to  cross  Lake  Erie.  The  wind 
was  favorable,  and  before  morning  Point  au  Pelee  Island  was  reached,  and 
the  next  day  the  four  escaped  fugitives  were  in  Canada."  The  Firelands 
Pioneer,  July,  1888,  pp.  49,  50. 


Niagara.  Owen  Sound,  Collingwood  and  Oro  were  the 
northernmost  resorts,  so  far  as  now  known.  Toronto, 
Queen's  Bush,  Wellesley,  Gait  and  Hamilton  occupied  terri- 
tory south  of  these,  and  farther  south  still,  in  the  marginal 
strip  fronting  directly  on  Lake  Erie,  there  were  not  less  than 
twenty  more  places  of  refuge.  The  most  important  of  these 
were  naturally  those  situated  at  either  end  of  the  strip,  and 
along  the  shore-line,  namely,  Windsor,  Sandwich  and  Am- 
herstburg.  New  Canaan,  Colchester  and  Kingsville,  Gosfield 
and  Buxton,  Port  Stanley,  Port  Burwell  and  Port  Royal, 
Long  Point,  Fort  Erie  and  St.  Catherines.  In  the  yalley  of 
the  Thames  also  many  refugees  settled,  especially  at  Chat- 
ham, Dresden  and  Dawn,  and  at  Sydenham,  London  and 
Wilberforce.  The  names  of  two  additional  towns,  Sarnia  on 
the  Huron  River  and  Brantford  on  the  Grand,  complete  the 
list  of  the  known  Canadian  terminals.  This  enumeration  of 
centres  cannot  be  supposed  to  be  exhaustive.  A  full  record 
would  take  into  account  the  localities  in  the  outlying  country 
districts  as  well  as  those  adjoining  or  forming  a  part  of  the 
hamlets,  towns  and  cities  of  the  whites,  whither  the  blacks 
had  penetrated.  The  untrodden  wilds  of  Canada,  as  well  as 
her  populous  places,  seemed  hospitable  to  a  people  for  whom 
the  hardships  of  the  new  life  were  fuUy  compensated  by  the 
consciousness  of  their  possession  of  the  rights  of  freemen, 
rights  vouchsafed  them  by  a  government  that  exemplified  the 
proud  boast  of  the  poet  Cowper :  — 

"  Slaves  cannot  breathe  in  England ;  if  their  lungs 
Receive  our  air,  that  moment  they  are  free ! 
They  touch  our  country  and  their  shackles  fall." 



Most  persons  that  engaged  in  the  underground  service  were 
opposed  either  to  enticing  or  to  abducting  slaves  from  the 
South.  This  was  no  less  true  along  the  southern  border  of  the 
free  states  than  in  their  interior.  The  principle  generally 
acted  upon  by  the  friends  of  fugitives  was  that  which  they 
held  to  be  voiced  in  the  Scriptural  injunction  to  feed  the 
hungry  and  clothe  the  naked.  The  quaking  negro  at  the 
door  in  the  dead  of  night  seeking  relief  from  a  condition, 
the  miseries  of  which  he  found  intolerable  and  for  which  he 
was  in  no  proper  sense  responsible,  was  a  figure  to  be  pitied, 
and  to  be  helped  without  delay.  Under  such  circumstances 
there  was  no  room  for  casuistry  in  the  mind  of  the  aboli- 
tionist. The  response  of  his  warm  nature  was  as  decisive  as 
his  favorite  passage  of  Scripture  was  imperative.  The  fugi- 
tive was  fed,  clothed  if  necessary,  and  guided  to  another 
friend  farther  on.  But  abolitionists  were  unwilling,  for  the 
most  part,  to  involve  themselves  more  deeply  in  danger  by 
abducting  slaves  from  thraldom.  The  Rev.  John  B.  Mahan, 
one  of  the  early  anti-slavery  men  of  southern  Ohio,  expressed 
this  fact  when  he  said,  "  I  am  confident  that  few,  if  any,  for 
various  reasons,  woulS^  invade  the  jurisdiction  of  another 
state  to  give  aid  and  encouragement  to  slaves  to  escape  from 
their  owners.  .  .  . "  ^  And  in  northern  Ohio,  in  so  radical 
a  town  as  Oberlin,  a  famous  station  of  the  Underground 
Road,  we  are  told  that  there  was  no  sentiment  in  favor  of 
enticing  slaves  away,  and  that  this  was  never  done  except  in 
one  case  —  by  Calvin  Fairbank,  a  student.^ 

1  History  of  Brown  County,  Ohio,  p.  315. 

'^  ConYersation  with  ex-President  James  H.  Fairchild,  Oberlin,  0.,  Aug.  3, 



The  general  disinclination  to  induce  escapes  of  slaves, 
either  by  secret  invitation  or  by  persons  serving  as  guides, 
renders  the  few  cases  conspicuous,  and  gives  them  consider- 
able interest.  When  instances  of  this  kind  became  known 
to  the  slave-owners,  as  for  example,  by  the  arrest  and  im- 
prisonment of  some  over-venturesome  offender,  the  irritation 
resulting  on  both  sides  of  Mason  and  Dixon's  line  was  apt  to 
be  disproportionate  to  the  magnitude  of  the  cause.  Never- 
theless the  aggravation  of  sectional  feeling  thus  produced 
was  real,  and  was  valued  by  some  Northern  agitators  as  a 
means  to  a  better  understanding  of  the  system  of  slavery.^ 

The  largest  number  of  abduction  cases  occurred  through 
the  activities  of  those  well-disposed  towards  fugitives  by  the 
attachments  of  race.  There  were  many  negroes,  enslaved 
and  free,  along  the  southern  boundaries  of  New  Jersey,  Penn- 
sylvania, Ohio,  Indiana,  Illinois  and  Iowa,  whose  opportuni- 
ties were  numerous  for  conveying  fugitives  to  free  soil  with 
slight  risk  to  themselves.  These  persons  sometimes  did 
scarcely  more  than  ferry  runaways  across  a  stream  or  direct 
them  to  the  homes  of  friends  residing  near  the  line  of  a  free 
state.  In  the  vicinity  of  Martin's  Ferry,  Ohio,  there  lived 
a  colored  man  who  frequented  the  Virginia  shore  for  the 
purpose  of  persuading  slaves  to  run  away.  He  was  in  the 
habit  of  imparting  the  necessary  information,  and  then  dis- 
playing himself  in  an  intoxicated  condition,  feigned  or  real, 
to  avoid  suspicion.  At  last  he  was  found  out,  but  escaped 
by  betaking  himself  to  Canada.^  In  the  neighborhood  of 
Portsmouth,  Ohio,  slaves  were  conveyed  across  the  river  by 
one  Poindexter,  a  barber  of  the  town  of  Jackson.^  In 
Baltimore,  Maryland,  two  colored  women,  who  engaged  in 
selling  vegetables,  were  efficient  in  starting  fugitives  on  the 
way  to  Philadelphia.*  At  Louisville,  Kentucky,  Wash  Sprad- 
ley,  a  shrewd  negro,  was  instrumental  in  helping  many  of 
his  enslaved  brethren  out  of  bondage.^     These  few  instances 

1  See  the  Annual  Eeports  of  the  Massachusetts  Anti-Slavery  Society. 

2  Conversation  with  Mrs.  Joel  "Woods,  at  Martin's  Ferry,  Aug.  19,  1892. 
'  Conversation  vrith  Judge  Jesse  "W.  Laird,  Jackson,  O.,  June,  1895. 

*  Conversation  with  Mr.  Eohert  Purvis,  at  Philadelphia,  Dec.  23,  1895. 
'  Conversation  with  John  Evans,  at  Windsor,  Ont.,  C.W.,  Aug.  2,  1895 ; 


will  suiBce  to  illustrate  the  secret  enterprises  conducted  by 
colored  persons  on  both  sides  of  the  sectional  line  once  divid- 
ing the  North  from  the  South. 

Another  class  of  colored  persons  that  undertook  the  work 
of  delivering  some  of  their  race  from  the  cruel  uncertainties 
of  slavery  may  be  found  among  the  refugees  of  Canada. 
Describing  the  early  development  of  the  movement  of  slaves 
to  Canada,  Dr.  Samuel  G.  Howe  says  of  these  persons,  "  Some, 
not  content  with  personal  freedom  and  happiness,  went 
secretly  back  to  their  old  homes  and  brought  away  their 
wives  and  children  at  much  peril  and  cost."  ^  It  has  been 
stated  that  the  number  of  these  persons  visiting  the  South 
annually  was  about  five  hundred.^  Mr.  D.  B.  Hodge,  of 
Lloydsville,  Ohio,  gives  the  case  of  a  negro  that  went  to 
Canada  by  way  of  New  Athens,  and  in  the  course  of  a  year 
returned  over  the  same  route,  went  to  Kentucky,  and  brought 
away  his  wife  and  two  children,  making  his  pilgrimage  north- 
ward again  after  the  lapse  of  about  two  months.*  Another 
case,  reported  by  Mr.  N.  C.  Buswell,  of  Neponset,  Illinois,  is 
as  follows  :  A  slave,  Charlie,  belonging  to  a  Missouri  planter 
living  near  Quincy,  Illinois,  escaped  to  Canada  by  way  of  one 
of  the  underground  routes.  Ere  long  he  decided  to  return 
and  get  his  wife,  but  found  she  had  been  sold  South.  When 
making  his  second  journey  eastward  he  brought  with  him 
a  family  of  slaves,  who  preferred  freedom  to  remaining  as  the 
chattels  of  his  old  master.  This  was  the  first  of  a  number  of 
such  trips  made  by  the  fugitive  Charlie.*  Mr.  Seth  Linton,^ 
who  was  familiar  with  the  work  on  a  line  of  this  Road  run- 
ning through  Clinton  County,  Ohio,  reports  that  a  fugitive 
that  had  passed  along  the  route  returned  after  some  months, 
saying  he  had  come  back  to  rescue  his  wife.  His  absence  in 
the  slave  state  continued  so  long  that  it  was  feared  he  had 
been  captured,  but  after  some  weeks  he  reappeared,  bringing 

John  Evans  was  a  slave  near  Louisville,  but  was  given  his  liberty  in  1850, 
when  his  master  became  financially  involved. 

1  Howe,  The  Refugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  p.  11. 

2  Redpath,  The  Public  Life  of  Captain  John  Brown,  p.  229. 
8  Letter  from  Mr.  D.  B.  Hodge,  Oct.  9,  1894. 

*  Letter  from  Colonel  N.  C.  Buswell,  March  13,  1896. 
6  Letter  from  Seth  Linton. 


his  wife  and  her  father  with  him.  He  told  of  having  seen 
many  slaves  in  the  country  and  said  they  would  be  along  as 
soon  as  they  could  escape.  The  following  year  the  Clinton 
County  line  was  unusually  busy.  A  brave  woman  named 
Armstrong  escaped  with  her  husband  and  one  child  to  Canada 
in  1842.  Two  years  later  she  determined  to  rescue  the  re- 
mainder of  her  family  from  the  Kentucky  plantation  where 
she  had  left  them,  and,  disguised  as  a  man,  she  went  back  to 
the  old  place.  Hiding  near  a  spring,  where  her  children 
were  accustomed  to  get  water,  she  was  able  to  give  instructions 
to  five  of  them,  and  the  following  night  she  departed  with 
her  flock  to  an  underground  station  at  Ripley,  Ohio.* 

Equally  zealous  in  the  slaves'  behalf  with  the  groups  of 
persons  mentioned  in  the  last  two  paragraphs  were  certain 
individuals  of  Southern  birth  and  white  parentage,  who  found 
the  opportunity  to  conduct  slaves  beyond  the  confines  of  the 
plantation  states.  Robert  Purvis  tells  of  the  son  of  a  planter, 
who  sometimes  travelled  into  the  free  states  with  a  retinue  of 
body-servants  for  the  purpose  of  having  them  fall  into  the  hands 
of  vigilant  abolitionists.  The  author  has  heard  similar  stories 
in  regard  to  the  sons  of  Kentucky  slave-owners,  but  the  names 
of  the  parties  concerned  were  withheld  for  obvious  reasons. 

John  Fairfield,  a  Virginian,  devoted  much  time  and  thought 
to  abducting  slaves.  Levi  Coffin,  who  knew  him  intimately, 
describes  him  as  a  person  full  of  contradictions,  who,  al- 
though a  Southerner  by  birth,  and  living  the  greater  part  of 
the  time  in  the  South,  yet  hated  slavery ;  a  person  lacking 
in  moral  quality,  but  devoted  to  the  interests  of  the  slave.^ 
John  Fairfield's  ostensible  business  was,  at  times,  that  of  a 
poultry  and  provision  dealer;  and  his  views,  when  he  was 
among  planters,  were  pro-slavery.  Nevertheless  his  abiding 
interest  seems  to  have  been  to  despoil  slaveholders  of  their 
human  property.  He  made  excursions  into  various  parts  of 
the  South,  and  led  many  companies  safely  through  to  Canada. 
While  Laura  Haviland  was  serving  as  a  mission  teacher  in 
Canada  West  (1852-1853),  Fairfield  arrived  at   Windsor, 

1  The  Firelands  Pioneer,  July,  1888,  p.  39. 

2  CofBn,  JReminiscences,  pp.  304,  305 ;  letter  of  Miss  H.  N.  Wilson,  College 
Hill,  O.,  AprilU,  1892. 


bringing  with  him  twenty-seven  slaves.  Mrs.  Haviland,  who 
witnessed  the  happy  conclusion  of  this  adventure,  testifies 
that  it  was  but  one  of  many,  and  that  the  abductor  often 
made  expeditions  into  the  heart  of  the  slaveholding  states  to 
secure  his  companies.  On  the  occasion  of  the  arrival  of  the 
Virginian  with  the  twenty-seven  a  reception  and  dinner  were 
given  in  his  honor  by  appreciative  friends  in  one  of  the 
churches  of  the  colored  people,  and  a  sort  of  jubilee  was 
celebrated.  The  ecstasies  of  some  of  the  guests,  among  them 
an  old  negro  woman  over  eighty  years  of  age,  touched  the 
heart  of  their  benefactor,  who  exclaimed,  "  This  pays  me  for 
all  dangers  I  have  faced  in  bringing  this  company,  just  to  see 
these  friends  meet."  ^ 

Northern  men  residing  or  travelling  in  the  South  were  some- 
times tempted  to  encourage  slaves  to  flee  to  Canada,  or  even 
to  plan  and  execute  abductions.  Jacob  Cummings,  a  slave 
belonging  to  a  small  planter,  James  Smith,  of  southeastern 
Tennessee,  was  befriended  by  a  Mr.  Leonard,  of  Chattanooga, 
who  had  become  an  abolitionist  in  Albany,  New  York,  before 
his  removal  to  the  South.  Cummings  was  occasionally  sent 
on  errands  to  Mr.  Leonard's  store.  This  gave  the  Northerner 
the  desired  opportunity  to  show  his  slave  customer  where 

1  Laura  S.  Haviland,  A  Woman's  Life  Work,  p.  199. 

In  a  letter  dated  Lawrence,  Kan.,  March  23,  1893,  Mr.  Fitch  Reed  gives 
some  of  the  circumstances  connected  with  the  progress  of  this  company- 
through  the  last  stages  of  its  journey.  He  says :  "  In  1853,  there  came  over 
the  road  twenty-eight  in  one  gang,  with  a  conductor  by  the  name  of  Fairfield, 
from  Virginia,  who  had  aided  in  liberating  all  his  father's  and  uncle's  slaves, 
and  there  was  a  reward  out  for  him  of  five  hundred  dollars,  dead  or  alive. 
They  had  fifty-two  rounds  of  arms,  and  were  determined  not  to  be  taken 
alive.  Four  teams  from  my  house  [in  Cambridge,  Mich.]  started  at  sunset, 
drove  through  Clinton  after  dark,  got  to  Ypsilanti  before  daylight.  Stayed 
at  Bro.  Ray's  through  the  day.  At  noon,  Bro.  M.  Coe,  from  our  station, 
got  on  the  cars  and  went  to  Detroit,  and  left  Ray  to  drive  his  team.  Coe  in- 
formed the  friends  of  the  situation,  and  made  arrangements  for  their  recep- 
tion. The  friends  came  out  to  meet  them  ten  miles  before  we  came  to  Detroit, 
piloted  us  to  a  large  boarding-house  by  the  side  of  the  river.  Two  hundred 
abolitionists  took  breakfast  with  them  just  before  daylight.  "We  procured 
boats  enough  for  Fairfield  and  his  crew.  As  they  pushed  off  from  shore, 
they  all  commenced  singing  the  song,  '  I  am  on  my  way  to  Canada,  where 
colored  men  are  free,'  and  continued  firing  off  their  arms  till  out  of  hearing. 
At  eight  o'clock,  the  ferry-boats  started,  and  the  station-keepers  went  over 
and  spent  most  of  the  day  vrith  them." 


Ohio  and  Indiana  are  on  the  map,  and  to  advise  him  to  go  to 
Canada.  As  Cummings  had  a  "hard  master"  he  did  not 
long  delay  his  going.  ^ 

The  risks  and  costs  of  a  long  trip  were  not  too  great  for  the 
enthusiastic  abolitionist  who  felt  that  immediate  rescue  must 
be  attempted.  One  remarkable  incident  illustrates  the  de- 
termination sometimes  displayed  in  freeing  a  slave.  Two 
brothers  from  Connecticut  settled  in  the  District  of  Columbia 
about  the  year  1848.  They  became  gardeners,  and  employed 
among  their  hands  a  colored  woman,  who  was  hired  out  to 
them  by  her  master.  Soon  after  the  passage  of  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  (1850)  she  came  weeping  to  her  employers  with 
the  news  that  she  was  to  be  sold  "  down  South."  Stirred  by 
her  impending  misfortune,  one  of  the  brothers  had  a  large 
box  made,  within  which  he  nailed  the  slave-woman  and  her 
young  daughter.  With  the  box  in  his  market-wagon  he  set 
out  on  a  long,  arduous  trip  across  Maryland  and  Pennsylvania 
into  New  York.  After  three  weeks  of  travel  he  reached  his 
journey's  end  at  Wai-saw.  Here  he  delivered  his  charge  to 
the  care  of  friends,  among  whom  they  found  a  permanent 

There  were  ardent  abolitionists  living  almost  within  sight  of 
slave  territory  that  had  no  scruples  about  helping  slaves  across 
the  line  and  passing  them  on  to  freedom.  In  1836,  Dr. 
David  Nelson,  a  Virginian,  who  had  freed  his  slaves  and  moved 
to  Marion  County,  Missouri,  and  had  there  founded  Marion 
College,  was  driven  into  Illinois  on  account  of  his  anti-slavery 
views.  He  settled  at  Quincy,  and  soon  established  the  Mission 
Institute,  which  was  chiefly  a  school  for  the  education  of  mis- 
sionaries. Mr.  N.  A.  Hunt,  now  eighty-five  years  old  but 
apparently  of  clear  mind,  was  a  student  in  Mission  Institute 
in  its  early  years.  He  relates  an  incident  showing  the  spirit 
existing  in  the  school,  a  spirit  that  manifested  itself  a  little 
later  in  the  actions  of  Messrs  Burr,  Work  and  Thompson. 
His  story  is  that  Dr.  Nelson  came  to  him  one  day  in  the 

1  Conversation  with  Jacob  Cummings,  Columbus,  O.,  April,  1894. 

'  Conversation  vrith  the  daughter  mentioned,  now  the  wife  of  William 
Burghardt,  Warsaw,  N.Y.,  June,  1894.  Article  on  the  Underground  Kail- 
road  in  the  History  of  Warsaw,  New  York. 


spring  of  1839  or  1840,  and  asked  him  to  go  with  another 
student  across  the  Mississippi  River  and  patrol  the  shore  op- 
posite Quincy.  The  students  were  to  make  signals  at  intervals 
by  tapping  stones  together,  and  if  their  signals  were  answered 
they  were  to  help  such  as  needed  help  by  conducting  them 
to  a  place  of  safety,  a  station  on  the  Underground  Railroad, 
sixteen  miles  east  of  Quincy.  The  station  could  be  easily 
recognized,  for  it  was  a  red  barn.  The  time  chosen  for  cross- 
ing the  river  was  always  a  Sunday  night,  a  time  known  to  be 
the  best  for  the  persons  sometimes  found  waiting  on  the  other 
side.  This  detailing  of  a  watch  from  the  school  was  regularly 
done,  although  with  what  results  is  not  known.^ 

Among  the  students  attending  this  Institute  in  1841  were 
James  E.  Burr  and  George  Thompson.  These  young  men, 
together  with  a  villager,  Alanson  Work,  arranged  with  two 
slaves  to  convey  them  from  bondage  in  Missouri.  The  ab- 
ductors found  themselves  surrounded  by  a  crowd  of  angry 
Missourians,  and  were  speedily  committed  to  jail  in  Palmyra. 
To  insure  the  conviction  of  the  prisoners  three  indictments 
were  brought  against  them,  one  charging  them  with  "  steal- 
ing slaves,  another  with  attempting  to  steal  them,  and  the 
other  with  intending  to  make  the  attempt."  ^  Conviction  was 
a  foregone  conclusion.  Work  and  his  companions  were  pro- 
nounced guilty  and  sentenced  to  twelve  years'  imprisonment. 
These  men  were  not  required,  however,  to  serve  out  their 
terms.  Mr.  Work  was  pardoned  after  three  and  a  half  years 
on  the  unjust  condition  that  he  return  with  his  wife  and  chil- 
dren to  the  State  of  Connecticut,  his  former  residence.  Mr. 
Burr  was  released  at  the  end  of  a  little  more  than  four  years 
and  six  months,  and  Mr.  Thompson  after  nearly  five  years' 
imprisonment.  The  anti-slavery  character  of  Mission  Insti- 
tute at  length  brought  down  upon  it  the  wrath  of  the  Mis- 
sourians. One  winter  night  a  party  from  Marion  County 
crossed  the  Mississippi  River  on  the  ice,  stealthily  marched 
to  the  Institute,  and  set  it  on  fire.^ 

1  Letter  from  N.  A.  Hunt,  of  Riverside,  Cal.,  Feb.  12,  1891. 

2  Quoted  by  Wilson,  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power  in  America,  Vol.  II, 
p.  7L 

3  Asbury,  History  of  Quincy,  p.  74.  The  account  of  the  Burr,  Work  and 
Thompson  case  occupies  pp.  72,  73  and  74  of  Asbury's  volume. 


In  southern  Indiana  operations  similar  to  those  of  the 
students  of  the  Mission  Institute  were  carried  on  by  a  sup- 
posedly inoffensive  pedler  of  notions,  Joseph  Sider.  With 
his  large  convenient  wagon  Sider  traversed  some  of  the 
border  counties  of  Kentucky,  supplying  goods  to  his  cus- 
tomers ;  one  of  his  boxes  was  reserved  for  disguises  for 
negroes  that  wished  to  cast  off  the  garments  of  slavery. 
Sider's  method  involved  the  use  of  his  vehicle  for  long  trips 
to  the  Ohio  River,  where  the  passengers  were  conveyed  by 
boat  to  a  place  of  safety,  and  told  to  remain  concealed  until 
the  wagon  and  team  could  be  transported  by  ferry  the  follow- 
ing morning.  So  simple  a  plan  did  not  excite  suspicion,  and 
served  to  carry  fugitives  rapidly  forward  to  some  line  of 
underground  traffic.^ 

Among  those  invasions  of  the  South  that  caused  consider- 
able excitement  at  the  time  of  their  occurrence,  the  cases  of 
Calvin  Fairbank,  Seth  Concklin  and  John  Brown  are  notable ; 
and  accounts  of  them  cannot  well  be  omitted  from  these 
pages,  even  though  they  may  be  more  or  less  familiar  to  the 
reader.  Mr.  Calvin  Fairbank  came  of  English  stock,  and 
was  born  in  Wyoming  County,  New  York,  in  1816.  His 
home  training  as  well  as  his  attendance  at  Oberlin  College 
furnished  him  with  anti-slavery  views,  but  the  circumstance 
to  which  he  traced  his  hearty  hatred  of  the  Southern  institu- 
tion arose  by  chance,  when  as  a  boy  he  was  attending  quar- 
terly meeting  with  his  parents.  "It  happened  that  my 
family  was  assigned,"  he  relates,  "  to  the  good,  clean  home 
of  a  pair  of  escaped  slaves.  One  night  after  service  I  sat  on 
the  hearthstone  before  the  fire,  and  listened  to  the  woman's 
story  of  sorrow.  .  .  .  My  heart  wept,  my  anger  was  kindled, 
and  antagonism  to  slavery  was  fixed  upon  me."  ^  In  the 
spring  of  1837  young  Fairbank  was  sent  by  his  father  down 
the  Ohio  River  in  charge  of  a  raft  of  lumber.  A  little  below 
Wheeling  he  saw  a  large,  active-looking,  black  man  on  the 
Virginia  shore,  going  to  the  woods  with  his  axe.     He  found 

1  E.  Hicks  Trueblood,  "Reminiscences  of  the  TTnderground  Railroad,"  in 
the  BepubUcan  Leader,  Salem,  Ind.,  March  16,  1894. 

2  Sev.  Calvin  Fairbank  During  Slavery  Times,  or  How  the  Way  was 
Prepared.    Edited  from  his  manuscript.    Pp.  1-7. 


the  woodsman  to  be  a  slave,  soon  gained  his  confidence,  and 
set  him  across  the  river  on  the  raft.  A  few  days  later  Mr. 
Fairbank  moored  his  rude  craft,  and  landed  on  the  Ken- 
tucky shore  opposite  the  mouth  of  the  Little  Miami  River. 
Here  he  was  approached  by  an  old  slave-woman,  who  sought 
the  liberation  of  her  seven  children.  The  matter  was  easily 
arranged,  and  after  dark  the  seven  were  speedily  conveyed 
across  the  river.^/ 

The  rescue  of  Lewis  Hayden  and  his  family  was  the  means 
of  bringing  Mr.  Fairbank  to  the  penitentiary,  while  it  opened 
to  his  friend  Hayden  an  honorable  career  in  New  England. 
Mr.  Hayden  became  a  respected  citizen  of  Boston,  and  helped 
to  organize  the  Vigilance  Committee  for  the  purpose  of  pro- 
tecting the  refugees  that  were  settling  in  the  city ;  in  course 
of  time  he  came  to  serve  in  the  legislature  of  the  State  of 
Massachusetts.  His  wife,  who  survived  him,  made  a  bequest 
of  an  estate  of  about  five  thousand  dollars  to  Harvard  Uni- 
versity to  found  a  scholarship  for  the  benefit  of  deserving 
colored  students.^  The  story  of  Hayden's  delivery  and  of 
his  own  imprisonment  is  best  told  in  Mr.  Fairbank's  words : 
"  Lewis  Hayden  .  .  .  was,  when  a  young  man,  .  .  .  the 
property  of  Baxter  and  Grant,  owners  of  the  Brennan  House, 
in  Lexington.  Hayden's  wife,  Harriet,  and  his  son,  a  lad  of 
ten  years  when  I  first  knew  them,  were  the  slaves  of  Patrick 
Baine.  On  a  September  evening  in  1844,  accompanied  by 
Miss  D.  A.  Webster,  a  young  Vermont  lady,  who  was  associ- 
ated with  me  in  teaching,  I  left  Lexington  with  the  Haydens, 
in  a  hack,  crossed  the  Ohio  River  on  a  ferry  at  nine  the  next 
morning,  changed  horses,  and  drove  to  an  Underground  Rail- 
road depot  at  Hopkins,  Ohio,  where  we  left  Hayden  and  his 
family.  .  .  .  When  Miss  Webster  and  I  returned  to  Lexing- 
ton, after  two  days'  absence,  we  were  both  arrested,  charged 
by  their  master  with  helping  Hayden's  wife  and  son  to  es- 
cape. We  were  jointly  indicted,  but  Miss  Webster  was  tried 
first  and  sentenced  to  two  years'  imprisonment  in  the  peni- 
tentiary at  Frankfort.  .  .  .  While  my  case  was  still  pending 
I  learned  that  the  governor  was  inclined  to  pardon  Miss 

1  Mev.  Calvin  Fairbank  During  Slavery  Times,  pp.  12-14. 

2  Boston  Weekly  Transcript,  Dec.  29,  1893. 


Webster,  but  first  insisted  tbat  I  sbould  be  tried.  Wben 
called  up  for  trial  in  February,  1845,  I  pleaded  guilty,  and 
received  a  sentence  of  fifteen  years.  I  served  four  years  and 
eleven  months,  and  then,  August  23,  1849,  was  released  by 
Governor  John  J.  Crittenden,  the  able  and  patriotic  man 
who  afterwards  saved  Kentucky  to  the  Union."  ^ 

In  spite  of  his  incarceration  for  aiding  slaves  to  escape,  and 
in  the  face  of  the  heavier  penalties  laid  by  the  new  Fugitive 
Slave  Law,  passed  shortly  after  his  release  from  prison,  Cal- 
vin Fairbank  was  soon  engaged  in  similar  enterprises.  He 
declares,  "  I  resisted  its  [the  law's]  execution  whenever  and 
wherever  possible."  ^  A  little  more  than  two  years  after  his 
pardon  Mr.  Fairbank  was  again  arrested,  this  time  in  Indiana, 
for  carrying  off  Tamar,  a  young  mulatto  woman,  who  was 
claimed  as  property  by  A.  L.  Shotwell,  of  Louisville,  Ken- 
tucky. Without  process  of  law  Mr.  Fairbank  was  taken  from 
the  State  of  Indiana  to  Louisville,  where  he  was  tried  in 
February,  1853.  He  was  again  sentenced  to  the  state  prison 
for  a  term  of  fifteen  years,  and  while  there  was  frequently 
subjected  to  the  most  brutal  treatment.  Altogether  Mr. 
Fairbank  spent  seventeen  years  and  four  months  of  his  life 
in  prison  for  abducting  slaves ;  he  says  that  during  his  second 
term  he  received  at  the  hands  of  prison  officials  thirty-five 
thousand  stripes.^  Having  served  more  than  twelve  years  of 
his  second  sentence,  he  was  pardoned  by  acting  Governor 
Richard  T.  Jacob.  It  was  a  singular  occurrence  that  finally 
enabled  Mr.  Fairbank  to  regain  his  liberty.  Among  the 
friends  upon  whose  favor  he  could  rely  was  the  lieutenant- 
governor  of  Kentucky,  Richard  T.  Jacob,  the  son-in-law  of 
Thomas  H.  Benton,  of  Missouri.  Mr.  Jacob  was  a  man  of 
strong  anti-slavery  tendencies,  notwithstanding  his  political 
prominence  and  his  private  interests  as  a  wealthy  planter. 
The  governor,  Thomas  E.  Bramlette,  was  opposed  to  extend- 
ing the  executive  clemency  to  so  notorious  an  offender  as 
Mr.  Fairbank.  Early  in  1864  General  Speed  S.  Fry  was 
detailed  by  President  Lincoln  to  enroll  all  the  negroes  of 

1  The  Chicago  Tribune,  Sunday,  Jan.  29, 1893. 

2  Ibid. 

'  Bev.  Calvin  Fairbank  During  Slavery  Times,  pp.  138,  144. 


Kentucky,  but  he  came  into  collision  with  Governor  Bram- 
lette,  who  sought  to  prevent  General  Fry  from  carrying  out 
his  orders.  Upon  receiving  information  to  this  effect  the 
President  summoned  the  executive  of  Kentucky  to  Washing- 
ton to  answer  to  charges ;  and  thereupon  Mr.  Jacob  became 
acting  governor.  On  his  first  day  in  office  the  new  executive 
of  Kentucky  was  accosted  by  General  Fry  with  the  remark, 
"  Governor,  the  President  thinks  it  would  be  well  to  make 
this  Fairbank's  day."  On  the  morning  following,  the  prisoner 
received  a  full  and  free  pardon.^ 

Mr.  Fairbank  gives  many  interesting  devices  that  he 
employed  in  his  work  to  throw  off  pursuit.  "Forty-seven 
slaves  I  guided  toward  the  north  star,  in  violation  of  the 
state  codes  of  Virginia  and  Kentucky.  I  piloted  them  through 
the  forests,  mostly  by  night ;  girls,  fair  and  white,  dressed  as 
ladies;  men  and  boys,  as  gentlemen,  or  servants;  men  in 
women's  clothes,  and  women  in  men's  clothes ;  boys  dressed 
as  girls,  and  girls  as  boys ;  on  foot  or  on  horseback,  in 
buggies,  carriages,  common  wagons,  in  and  under  loads  of 
hay,  straw,  old  furniture,  boxes  and  bags ;  crossing  the  Jor- 
dan of  the  slave,  swimming  or  wading  chin  deep ;  or  in  boats, 
or  skiffs ;  on  rafts,  and  often  on  a  pine  log.  And  I  never 
suffered  one  to  be  recaptured."  ^ 

About  1850,  Seth  Concklin,  a  resident  of  Philadelphia, 
learned  of  the  remarkable  escape  of  Peter  Still  from  Alabama 
to  the  Quaker  City.  Here  the  runaway  was  most  happily 
favored  in  finding  friends.  WiUiam  Still,  his  brother,  from 
whom  he  had  been  separated  by  kidnappers  long  years 
before,  was  discovered  almost  immediately  in  the  office  of 
the  Pennsylvania  Anti-Slavery  Society;  and  Seth  Concklin 
soon  proffered  himself  as  an  agent  to  go  into  the  South  and 
bring  away  Peter  Still's  family.  The  fugitive  himself  first 
visited  Alabama  to  see  what  could  be  done  for  his  wife  and 
children;  but  failing  to  accomplish  anything  he  gratefully 
accepted  the  offer  of  the  daring  Philadelphian.  Mr.  Conck- 
lin expected  to  assume  the  character  of  a  slave-owner  and 

1  Sev.  Calvin  Fairbank  During  Slavery  Times,  pp.  11, 104-143.  See  also 
the  Chicago  Tribune,  Sunday,  Jan.  29,  1893,  p.  33. 

^  Sev.  Calvin  Fairbank  During  Slavery  Times,  pp.  10  and  11. 


bring  the  Stills  away  as  his  servants ;  he  found,  however,  that 
the  steamboats  on  the  Tennessee  River  were  too  irregular  to 
be  depended  on.  He  therefore  returned  north  to  Indiana, 
and  arranged  for  the  escape  of  the  slave  family  across  that 
state  to  Canada.  The  story  of  his  second  attempt  at  the 
South  has  a  tragic  ending,  notwithstanding  its  favorable 
beginning.  Having  made  a  safe  start  and  a  long  journey  of 
seven  days  and  nights  in  a  rowboat  the  whole  party  was 
captured  in  southwestern  Indiana.  A  letter  from  the  Rev. 
N.  R.  Johnston  to  William  Still,  written  soon  after  the  catas- 
trophe, gives  the  following  account  of  the  affair :  "  On  last 
Tuesday  I  mailed  a  letter  to  you,  written  by  Seth  ConckUn. 
I  presume  you  have  received  that  letter.  It  gave  an  account 
of  the  rescue  of  the  family  of  your  brother.  If  that  is  the 
last  news  you  have  had  from  them  I  have  very  painful  intel- 
ligence for  you.  They  passed  on  (north)  from  near  Prince- 
ton, where  I  saw  them.  ...  I  think  twenty-three  miles 
above  Vincennes,  Ind.,  they  were  seized  by  a  party  of  men, 
and  lodged  in  jail.  Telegraphic  despatches  were  sent  all 
through  the  South.  I  have  since  learned  that  the  marshal 
of  Evansville  received  a  despatch  from  Tuscumbia  to  look 
out  for  them.  By  some  means,  he  and  the  master,  so  says 
report,  went  to  Vincennes  and  claimed  the  fugitives,  chained 
Mr.  Concklin,  and  hurried  all  off.  .  .  ."  ^  In  a  postscript, 
the  same  letter  gave  the  rumor  of  Seth  Concklin's  escape 
from  the  boat  on  which  he  was  being  carried  South ;  but  the 
newspapers  brought  reports  of  a  different  nature.  Their 
statements  represented  that  the  man  "Miller"  —  that  is, 
ConckUn  —  "  was  found  drowned,  with  his  hands  and  feet  in 
chains  and  his  skull  fractured."  ^  The  version  of  the  trag- 
edy given  by  the  claimant  of  the  fugitives,  McKiernon,  was 
as  follows  :  "  Some  time  last  march  a  white  man  by  the  name 
of  Miller  appeared  in  the  nabourhood  and  abducted  the 
above  negroes,  was  caught  at  vincanes,  Indi.  with  said  ne- 
groes and  was  thare  convicted  of  steling  and  remanded  back 
to  Ala.  to  Abide  the  penalty  of  the  law  and  on  his  return 

1  Letter  dated  Evansville,  Ind.,  March  31, 1851.     Printed  in  Still's  Under- 
ground Railroad  Becords,  pp.  30,  31. 

'  Still,  Underground  Railroad  Becords,  p.  31. 



met  his  Just  reward  by  getting  drowned  at  the  mouth  of 
Cumberland  River  on  the  Ohio  in  attempting  to  make  his 
escape."  ^  Just  how  Concklin  met  his  death  will  probably 
always  remain  a  mystery.  McKiernon's  letter  offered  terms 
for  the  purchase  of  the  poor  slaves,  but  they  were  so  exorbi- 
tant that  they  could  not  be  accepted.  Besides,  it  was  not 
deemed  proper  to  jeopardize  the  life  of  another  agent  on  a 
mission  so  dangerous. 

It  is  well  known  that  John  Brown  aided  fugitive  slaves 
whenever  the  opportunity  occurred,  as  did  his  Puritan-bred 
father  before  him.  We  have  no  record,  however,  of  his  ab- 
ducting slaves  from  the  South  except  in  the  case  of  his 
famous  raid  into  Missouri  in  1858.  This  exploit  has  a  pecul- 
iar interest  for  us,  not  only  as  one  of  the  most  notable  ab- 
ductions, but  as  being,  in  a  special  way,  the  prelude  of  that 
great  plan  in  behalf  of  the  enslaved  that  he  sought  to  carry 
out  at  Harper's  Ferry.  After  Captain  Brown's  return  from 
the  Eastern  states  to  Kansas  in  1858,  he  and  his  men  en- 
camped for  a  few  days  at  Bain's  Fort.  While  here.  Brown 
was  appealed  to  by  a  slave,  Jim  Daniels,  the  chattel  of  one 
James  Lawrence,  of  Missouri.  Daniels  had  heard  of  Captain 
Brown,  and,  securing  a  permit  to  go  about  and  sell  brooms, 
had  used  it  in  making  his  way  to  Brown's  camp.''  His 
prayer  was  "  For  help  to  get  away,"  because  he  was  soon  to 
be  sold,  together  with  his  wife,  two  children  and  a  negro 
man.'  Such  a  supplication  could  not  be  made  in  vain  to 
John  Brown.  On  the  following  night  (December  20) 
Brown's  raid  into  Missouri  was  made.  Brown  himself  gives 
the  account  of  it :  *  "  Two  small  companies  were  made  up  to 
go  to  Missouri  and  forcibly  liberate  the  five  slaves,  together 

1  Still,  Underground  Hailroad  Records,  p.  35.  Letter  dated  South 
Florence,  Ala.,  Aug.  6,  1851. 

2  Conversation  with  Samuel  Harper  and  his  wife,  Jane  Harper,  the  two 
surviving  members  of  the  company  of  slaves  escorted  to  Canada  by  Brown  in 
March,  1859.  Their  home  since  has  been  in  or  about  Windsor.  I  found 
them  there  in  the  early  part  of  August,  1895. 

'  Halloway,  History  of  Kansas.  Quoted  from  John  Brown's  letters,  Jan- 
uary, 1859  (pp.  539-545). 

*  In  a  letter  written  by  Brown,  January,  1859,  to  the  Neio  York  Tribune, 
in  which  paper  it  was  published.  It  was  also  published  in  the  Lawrence 
(Kansas)  Bepublican.  See  Sanborn's  Life  and  Letters  of  John  Brown,  p.  481. 




with  otlier  slaves.  One  of  these  companies  I  assumed  to  di- 
rect. We  proceeded  to  the  place,  surrounded  the  buildings, 
liberated  the  slaves,  and  also  took  certain  property  supposed 
to  belong  to  the  estate. 

"  We,  however,  learned  before  leaving  that  a  portion  of  the 
articles  we  had  taken  belonged  to  a  man  living  on  the  planta- 
tion as  a  tenant,  and  who  was  supposed  to  have  no  interest 
in  the  estate.  We  promptly  returned  to  him  all  we  had  taken. 
We  then  went  to  another  plantation,  where  we  found  five 
more  slaves ;  took  some  property  and  two  white  men.  We 
moved  all  slowly  away  into  the  territory  for  some  distance 
and  then  sent  the  white  men  back,  telling  them  to  follow  us 
as  soon  as  they  chose  to  do  so.  The  other  company  freed 
one  female  slave,  took  some  property,  and,  as  I  am  in- 
formed, killed  one  white  man  (the  master)  who  fought 
against  liberation.  .  .  ."^ 

The  company  responsible  for  the  shooting  of  the  slave- 
owner, David  Cruse,  was  in  charge  of  Kagi  and  Charles 
Stephens,  also  known  as  Whipple.  When  this  party  came 
to  the  house  of  Mr.  Cruse  the  family  had  retired.  There  was 
no  hesitation,  however,  on  the  part  of  the  strangers  in  request- 
ing quarters  for  the  night.  Mrs.  Cruse,  her  suspicions  fully 
aroused,  handed  her  husband  his  pistol.  Jean  Harper,  the 
slave-woman  that  was  taken  from  this  house,  asserts  that  her 
master  would  certainly  have  fired  upon  the  intruders  had  not 
Whipple  used  his  revolver  first,  with  deadly  effect.  When 
the  two  squads  came  together  the  march  back  to  Bain's  Fort 
was  begun.  On  the  way  thither  Brown  asked  the  slaves  if 
they  wanted  to  be  free,  and  then  promised  to  take  them  to  a 
free  country.  Thus  was  Brown  led  to  undertake  one  of  his 
boldest  adventures,  one  of  the  boldest  indeed  in  the  history  of 
the  Underground  Road.  With  a  mere  handful  of  men  he  pur- 
posed to  escort  his  band  of  freedmen  on  a  journey  of  twenty- 
five  hundred  miles  to  Canada,  in  the  dead  of  winter,  and 
surrounded  by  the  dangers  that  the  publicity  of  his  foray  and 
the  announcement  of  a  reward  of  three  thousand  dollars  for 
his  arrest  were  likely  to  bring  upon  him.     Brown  and  his 

1  SanTjom,  lAfe  and  Letters  of  John  Brown,  pp.  482,  483 ;  also  Redpath, 
The  Public  Life  of  Captain  John  Brown,  pp.  219,  220. 


company  tarried  only  one  day  at  Bain's  Fort ;  then  proceeded 
northward  by  way  of  Topeka  to  the  place  of  his  friend,  Dr. 
Doyle,  five  miles  beyond,  and  then  by  way  of  Osawattomie, 
Holton  and  the  house  of  Major  J.  B.  Abbot  near  Lawrence, 
into  Nebraska.  Lawrence  was  reached  January  24,  1859. 
At  Holton  a  party  of  pursuers,  two  or  three  times  as  large 
as  Brown's  company,  was  dispersed  in  instant  and  ridiculous 
flight,  and  four  prisoners  and  five  horses  were  taken.  The 
trip,  after  leaving  Holton,  was  made  amidst  great  perils. 
Under  an  escort  of  seventeen  "  Topeka  boys  "  Brown  pressed 
rapidly  on  to  Nebraska  City.  At  this  point  the  passage 
of  the  Missouri  was  made  on  the  ice,  and  the  liberators 
with  their  charges  arrived  at  Tabor  in  the  first  week  of 
February.  Here,  Brown  met  with  rebuff,  "contrary  to  his 
expectation,  and  contrary  to  the  whole  former  attitude 
of  the  people,"  we  are  told,  "he  was  not  welcomed,  but, 
at  a  public  meeting  called  for  the  purpose,  was  severely 
reprimanded  as  a  disturber  of  the  peace  and  safety  of  the 
village.  Effecting  a  hasty  departure  from  Tabor,  and  taking 
advantage  of  the  protection  offered  by  a  few  friendly  families 
on  the  way,  he  and  his  party  of  fugitives  came,  on  February 
20, 1859,  to  Grinnell,  Iowa,  where  they  were  cordially  received 
by  the  Hon.  J.  B.  Grinnell,  who  entertained  them  in  his  house. 
Brown's  next  stop  was  made  at  Springdale,  which  place  he 
reached  on  February  25.  Here  the  fugitives  were  distributed 
among  the  Quaker  families  for  safety  and  rest  before  continu- 
ing the  journey  to  Canada.  But  soon  rumors  were  afloat 
of  the  coming  of  the  United  States  marshal,  and  it  became 
necessary  to  secure  for  the  negroes  railroad  transportation 
to  Chicago.  Kagi  and  Stephens,  disguised  as  sportsmen, 
walked  to  Iowa  City,  enlisted  the  services  of  Mr.  William 
Penn  Clark,  an  influential  anti-slavery  citizen  of  that  place,  and 
by  his  efforts,  supplemented  by  those  of  Hon.  J.  B.  Grinnell, 
a  freight  car  was  got  and  held  in  readiness  at  West  Liberty. 
The  negroes  were  then  brought  down  from  Springdale  (dis- 
tant but  six  miles)  and,  after  spending  a  night  in  a  grist-mill 
near  the  railway  station,  were  ready  to  embark."  ^    They  were 

1  Irving  B.  Richman,  John  Brown  among  the  Quakers,  and  Other  Sketches, 
pp.  46,  47,  48. 


stowed  away  in  the  freight-car  by  Brown,  Kagi  and  Stephens, 
and  the  car  was  made  fast  to  a  train  from  the  West  on  the 
Chicago  and  Rock  Island  Road.  "  On  reaching  Chicago, 
Brown  and  his  party  were  taken  into  friendly  charge  by 
Allen  Pinkerton,  the  famous  detective,  and  started  for  De- 
troit. On  March  10  they  were  in  Detroit  and  practically  at 
their  journey's  end."^  On  the  twelfth  the  freedmen  were, 
under  Brown's  direction,  ferried  across  the  Detroit  River 
to  Windsor,  Canada. 

The  trip  from  southern  Kansas  to  the  Canadian  destination 
had  consumed  three  weeks.  The  restoration  of  twelve  per- 
sons to  "  their  natural  and  inalienable  rights  with  but  one  man 
killed  "  ^  was  a  result  which  Brown  seems  to  have  regarded  as 
justifiable,  but  one  the  tragedy  of  which  he  certainly  deplored.^ 
The  manner  in  which  this  result  had  been  accomplished  was 
highly  dramatic,  and  created  great  excitement  throughout  the 
country,  especially  in  Missouri.  Brown's  biographer,  James 
Redpath,  writing  in  1860,  speaks  thus  of  the  consternation 
in  the  invaded  state :  "  When  the  news  of  the  invasion  of 
Missouri  spread,  a  wild  panic  went  with  it,  which  in  a  few 
days  resulted  in  clearing  Bates  and  Vernon  counties  of  their 
slaves.  Large  numbers  were  sold  south;  many  ran  into  the 
Territory  and  escaped ;  others  were  removed  farther  inland. 
When  John  Brown  made  his  invasion  there  were  five  hundred 
slaves  in  that  district  where  there  are  not  fifty  negroes  now."  * 
The  success  of  the  expedition  just  narrated  was  well  fitted 
to  increase  confidence  in  John  Brown's  determination,  and  to 
arouse  enthusiasm  among  his  numerous  refugee  friends  in 
Canada.  The  story  of  the  adventure  was  not  unlikely  to 
penetrate  the  remote  regions  of  the  South,  and  perhaps  find 
lodgment  in  the  retentive  memories  of  many  slaves.  The 
publication  in  the  New  York  Tribune  of  his  letter  defending 
his  abduction  of  the  Missouri  chattels  just  as  he  was  begin- 

•  Irving  B.  Eiehman,  John  Brown  among  the  Quakers,  and  Other  Sketches, 
pp.  46,  47,  48. 

2  Sanborn,  The  Life  and  Letters  of  John  Brown,  p.  483.  See  the  letter 
of  "The  Parallels." 

'  Hinton,  John  Brown  and  His  Men,  p.  221. 

*  Redpath,  The  Public  Life  of  Captain  John  Broion,  p.  221. 


ning  his  journey  east  shows  that  Brown  was  not  unwilling 
to  have  his  act  widely  known.  It  was  almost  the  middle 
of  March  when  Brown  arrived  in  Canada ;  his  letter  had  been 
made  public  in  January ;  it  had  had  ample  time  for  circula- 
tion. Before  he  left  Kansas  he  said  significantly,  "  He  would 
soon  remove  the  seat  of  the  trouble  elsewhere,"  ^  and  it  was 
but  six  months  after  his  arrival  in  Canada  that  the  attack  on 
Harper's  Ferry  was  made. 

For  more  than  ten  years  John  Brown  had  cherished  a  plan 
for  the  liberation  of  the  slaves,  in  which  abduction  was  to 
be  in  a  measure  employed.  This  plan  he  had  revealed  to 
Frederick  Douglass  as  early  as  1847.  It  is  given  in  Douglass' 
words :  " '  The  true  object  to  be  sought,'  said  Brown,  'is  first 
of  all  to  destroy  the  money  value  of  slave  property ;  and  that 
can  only  be  done  by  rendering  such  property  insecure.  My 
plan  then  is  to  take  at  first  about  twenty-five  picked  men,  and 
begin  on  a  small  scale ;  supply  them  arms  and  ammunition ; 
post  them  in  squads  of  five  on  a  line  of  twenty-five  miles,  the 
most  persuasive  and  judicious  of  whom  shall  go  down  to  the 
fields  from  time  to  time,  as  opportunity  offers,  and  induce 
the  slaves  to  join  them,  seeking  and  selecting  the  most  rest- 
less and  daring.'  .  .  .  With  care  and  enterprise  he  thought 
he  could  soon  gather  a  force  of  one  hundred  hardy  men.  .  .  . 
When  these  were  properly  drilled,  .  .  .  they  would  run  off 
the  slaves  in  larger  numbers,  retain  the  brave  and  strong  ones 
in  the  mountains,  and  send  the  weak  and  timid  to  the  North 
by  the  Underground  Railroad:  his  operations  would  be  en- 
larged with  increasing  numbers,  and  would  not  be  confined 
to  one  locality.  ...  '  If,'  said  Brown,  '  we  could  drive  sla- 
very out  of  one  county,  ...  it  would  weaken  the  system 
throughout  the  state.'  The  enemy's  country  would  afford 
subsistence,  the  fastnesses  of  the  AUeghanies  abundant  pro- 
tection, and  a  series  of  stations  through  Pennsylvania  to  the 
Canadian  border  a  means  of  egress  for  timid  slaves."  ^ 

The  plot,  as  disclosed  eleven  years  later  to  Richard  J.  Hin- 
ton  (September,  1858)  by  Brown's  lieutenant,  Kagi,  contains 

1  Hinton,  John  Brown  and  His  Men,  p.  222,  note. 

"  Life  of  Frederick  Douglass,  1881,  pp.  280,  281  and  318,  319.  Also  Hin- 
ton, John  Brown  and  His  Men,  pp.  30,  31,  32. 


some  additional  details  of  interest.  Hinton  says :  "  The 
mountains  of  Virginia  were  named  as  the  place  of  refuge, 
and  as  a  country  admirably  adapted  in  which  to  carry  on 
a  guerilla  warfare.  In  the  course  of  the  conversation, 
Harper's  Ferry  was  mentioned  as  a  point  to  be  seized  —  but 
not  held  - —  on  account  of  the  arsenal.  The  white  members  of 
the  company  were  to  act  as  officers  of  different  guerilla  bands, 
which,  under  the  general  command  of  John  Brown,  were  to 
be  composed  of  Canadian  refugees,  and  the  Virginian  slaves 
who  would  join  them.  .  .  .  They  anticipated,  after  the  first 
blow  had  been  struck,  that,  by  the  aid  of  the  free  and  Cana- 
dian negroes  who  would  join  them,  they  could  inspire  confi- 
dence in  the  slaves,  and  induce  them  to  rally.  No  intention 
was  expressed  of  gathering  a  large  body  of  slaves,  and  re- 
moving them  to  Canada.  On  the  contrary,  Kagi  clearly 
stated,  in  answer  to  my  inquiries,  that  the  design  was  to 
make  the  fight  in  the  mountains  of  Virginia,  extending  it 
to  North  Carolina  and  Tennessee,  and  also  to  the  swamps 
of  South  Carolina,  if  possible.  Their  purpose  was  not  the 
expatriation  of  one  or  a  thousand  slaves,  but  their  liberation 
in  the  states  wherein  they  were  born,  and  were  now  held  in 
bondage.  .  .  .  Kagi  spoke  of  having  marked  out  a  chain 
of  counties  extending  continuously  through  South  Carolina, 
Georgia,  Alabama,  and  Mississippi.  He  had  traveled  over  a 
large  portion  of  the  region  indicated,  and  from  his  own  per- 
sonal knowledge  and  with  the  assistance  of  the  Canadian 
negroes  who  had  escaped  from  those  States,  they  had  arranged 
a  general  plan  of  attack.  .  .  .  They  expected  to  be  speedily 
and  constantly  reinforced ;  first,  by  the  arrival  of  those  men 
who,  in  Canada,  were  anxiously  looking  and  praying  for  the 
time  of  deliverance,  and  then  by  the  slaves  themselves.  .  .  . 
The  constitution  adopted  at  Chatham  [in  the  spring  of  1858] 
was  intended  as  the  framework  of  organization  among  the 
emancipationists,  to  enable  the  leaders  to  effect  a  more  com- 
plete control  of  their  forces.  .  .  ."  ^  A  comparison  of  these 
two  versions  of  Brown's  plan  of  liberation  leads  to  the  con- 
clusion that   the   abduction   of   slaves   to  the  North  was  a 

1  Hinton,  John  Brown  and  His  Men,  Appendix,  pp.  673,  674,  675.     Also 
Eedpath,  The  Public  Life  of  Captain  John  Brown,  pp.  203,  204,  205.  • 


measure  to  which  the  liberator  never  attached  more  impor- 
tance than  as  a  means  of  ridding  his  men  of  the  care  of 
helpless  slaves;  the  brave  he  would  use  in  organizing  an 
insurrection  amid  the  mountains  of  the  Southern  states  that 
should  wipe  away  the  curse  of  slavery  from  the  country. 

It  will  be  remembered  that  the  occasion,  if  not  the  cause, 
of  John  Brown's  raid  into  Missouri  was  the  solicitation  of 
aid  by  a  slave  for  himself  and  companions.  Such  prayers 
for  succor  were  not  infrequently  addressed  to  abolitionists 
by  those  in  bonds  or  by  their  refugee  friends.  In  the  anti- 
slavery  host  there  were  many  whose  principles  wavered  not 
under  any  test  applied  to  them,  and  whose  impulses  urged 
them  upon  humanitarian  missions,  however  hemmed  in  by 
difficulties  and  dangers.  Among  those  who  heard  and  an- 
swered the  cry  of  the  slave  were  the  Rev.  Charles  T.  Torrey, 
Captain  Jonathan  Walker,  Mrs.  Laura  S.  Haviland,  Captain 
Daniel  Drayton,  Richard  Dillingham,  William  L.  Chaplin 
and  Josiah  Henson. 

The  variety  of  persons  represented  in  this  short,  incomplete 
list  is  interesting :  Mr.  Torrey  was  a  Congregational  clergy- 
man of  New  England  stock,  and  had  been  educated  at  Yale 
College ;  Messrs.  Walker  and  Drayton  were  masters  of  sailing 
vessels,  and  came  from  the  states  of  Massachusetts  and  New 
Jersey  respectively ;  Mrs.  Haviland  was  a  Wesleyan  Metho- 
dist, who  founded  a  school  or  institute  in  southeastern  Michi- 
gan for  both  white  and  colored  persons ;  Richard  Dillingham 
was  a  Quaker  school-teacher  in  Cincinnati,  Ohio ;  William  L. 
Chaplin  began  his  professional  life  as  a  lawyer  in  eastern 
Massachusetts,  but  soon  became  the  editor  of  an  anti-slavery 
newspaper ;  and  Josiah  Henson  was  a  fugitive  slave,  one  of 
the  founders  of  the  Dawn  Institute  in  Canada  West.  With 
the  exception  of  the  last  named  they  were  white  persons, 
whose  sense  of  the  injustice  of  slavery  caused  them  to  take 
a  stand  that  shut  them  out  of  that  conventionally  respectable 
society  to  which  their  birth,  education  and  talents  would  have 
admitted  them. 

In  1838  Charles  T.  Torrey  resigned  from  the  pastorate  of 
a  Congregational  church  in  Providence,  Rhode  Island,  and 
relinquished  ease  and  quiet  to   engage  in  the  anti-slavery 


struggle  then  agitating  the  country.  He  became  a  lecturer 
and  a  newspaper  correspondent,  and,  early  in  the  forties,  the 
editor  of  a  paper  called  The  Patriot,  at  Albany,  New  York. 
While  acting  as  Washington  correspondent  for  several 
Northern  papers  he  attended  a  convention  of  slave-owners 
at  Annapolis,  Maryland,  in  1842,  and  was  thrust  into  jail 
on  the  score  of  being  an  abolitionist.  He  was  released  after 
several  days,  having  been  placed  under  bonds  to  keep  the 
peace.  While  in  prison  he  solemnly  reconsecrated  himself 
to  the  work  of  freeing  the  slaves.  Within  a  year  from  this 
time  a  refugee  entreated  Mr.  Torrey  to  help  him  bring  his 
wife  and  children  from  Virginia.  The  errand  was  under- 
taken, but  came  to  a  most  mournful  end.  Arrested  and 
imprisoned,  Mr.  Torrey  with  others  attempted  to  break  jail ; 
he  was  betrayed,  however,  and  at  length,  December  30, 
1843,  sentenced  to  the  penitentiary  for  six  years.  Under  the 
severities  of  prison  life  Mr.  Torrey's  health  gave  way.  His 
pardon  was  sought  by  friends,  but  mercy  was  withheld  from 
a  man  the  depth  of  whose  conviction  made  recantation  im- 
possible. In  December,  1844,  he  wrote  :  "  I  cannot  afford  to 
concede  any  truth  or  principle  to  get  out  of  prison.  I  am 
not  rich  enough."  While  his  trial  was  pending  he  wrote  his 
friend,  Henry  B.  Stanton :  "  If  I  am  a  guilty  man,  I  am  a  very 
guilty  one;  for  I  have  aided  nearly  four  hundred  slaves  to 
escape  to  freedom,  the  greater  part  of  whom  would  probably, 
but  for  my  exertions,  have  died  in  slavery."  Concerning  this 
confession  Henry  Wilson  writes :  "  This  statement  was  corrob- 
orated by  the  testimony  of  Jacob  Gibbs,  a  colored  man,  who 
was  Mr.  Torrey's  chief  assistant  in  his  efforts."  ^  On  May  9, 
1846,  Mr.  Torrey  died  in  prison.  In  death  as  in  life,  the 
lesson  of  the  clergyman's  career  proclaimed  but  one  truth, 
the  injustice  of  slavery.  When  the  remains  of  Mr.  Torrey 
were  conveyed  to  Boston  for  interment  in  the  beautiful 
cemetery  at  Mt.  Auburn,  the  use  of  Park  Street  Church,  at 
first  granted,  was  later  refused  to  the  brother-in-law  of  the 
dead  minister,  although  as  a  worshipper  he  was  entitled  to 
Christian  courtesy.  Tremont  Temple  was  procured  for  the 
funeral  services,  and  was  thronged  by  a  multitude  eager  to 

1  "Wilson,  Biae  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power  in  America,  Vol.  n,  p.  80. 


do  honor  to  a  life  of  self-sacrifice,  and  show  disapproval  of 
the  affront  to  the  dead.  A  large  meeting  in  Faneuil  Hall 
on  the  evening  of  the  funeral  day  paid  tribute  to  the  memory 
of  the  liberator.  The  occasion  was  made  memorable  by  a 
poem  by  James  Russell  Lowell,  and  addresses  by  General 
Fessenden  of  Maine,  Henry  B.  Stanton  and  Dr.  Walter 
Channing.  Whittier  wrote:  "His  work  for  the  poor  and 
helpless  was  well  and  nobly  done.  In  the  wild  woods  of 
Canada,  around  many  a  happy  fireside  and  holy  family  altar, 
his  name  is  on  the  lips  of  God's  poor.  He  put  his  soul  in 
their  soul's  stead;  he  gave  his  life  for  those  who  had  no 
claim  on  his  love  save  that  of  human  brotherhood."  ^ 

In  1844,  the  year  after  Mr.  Torrey's  disastrous  attempt  to 
abduct  a  slave-family,  Captain  Jonathan  Walker  was  made 
a  victim  of  the  law  on  account  of  friendly  offices  undertaken 
in  behalf  of  some  trusting  negroes.  Once,  while  on  the 
coast  of  Florida,  Mr.  Walker  consented  to  ferry  seven  slaves 
from  Pensacola  to  one  of  the  neighboring  Bahama  Islands, 
where  they  might  enjoy  the  freedom  vouchsafed  by  English 
law.  In  the  open  boat  used  for  the  purpose  Captain  Walker 
suffered  sunstroke,  and  on  this  account  his  craft  was  over- 
hauled, and  the  escaping  party  was  taken  into  custody. 
After  two  trials  Captain  Walker  was  condemned  to  punish- 
ments that  remind  one  strongly  of  the  barbarous  penalties 
inflicted  upon  offenders  in  the  reign  of  Charles  the  First  of 
England :  he  was  sentenced  to  stand  in  the  pillory ;  to  be 
branded  on  the  hand  with  the  letters  S.  S.  (slave-stealer) ;  to 
pay  a  fine  and  serve  a  term  of  imprisonment  for  each  slave 
assisted ;  to  pay  the  costs  of  prosecution ;  and  to  stand  com- 
mitted until  his  fines  should  be  paid.  His  treatment  in 
prison  was  brutal,  but  he  was  not  obliged  to  endure  it  long, 
for,  by  the  intervention  of  friends,  his  fines  were  paid,  and 
he  was  released  in  the  summer  of  1848.  Subjected  to  indig- 
nities and  disgrace  in  the  South,  Captain  Walker  was  the 
recipient  of  many  demonstrations  of  approval  on  his  return 
to  the  North.     Whittier  blazoned  his  stigmas  into  a  prophecy 

1  Quoted  by  "Wilson,  in  his  History  of  the  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power 
in  America,  Vol.  II,  p.  80. 


of  deliverance  for  the  slave.  In  a  poem  of  welcome  the  dis- 
tinguished Quaker  wrote : 

"  Then  lift  that  manly  right  hand,  bold  ploughman  of  the  wave, 
Its  branded  palm  shall  prophesy  '  Salvation  to  the  Slave.' 
Hold  up  its  fire-wrought  language  that  whoso  reads  may  feel 
His  heart  swell  strong  within  him,  his  sinews  change  to  steel."  i 

These  words  were  set  to  music  by  Mr.  George  W.  Clark,  and 
sung  by  him  with  thrilling  effect  at  many  anti-slavery  gather- 
ings throughout  New  England.  Mr.  Walker  became  at  once 
a  conspicuous  witness  against  the  slave  power  in  the  great 
trial  that  was  then  going  forward  at  the  bar  of  public  opinion. 
At  Providence,  Rhode  Island,  his  return  from  the  Florida 
prison  was  heralded,  and  a  large  reception  was  given  him, 
attended  by  the  Hon.  Owen  Lovejoy,  brother  of  the  martyr 
Love  joy,  Milton  Clark,  the  white  slave,  and  Lewis,  his  brother. 
It  is  said  that  three  thousand  people  crowded  the  seats,  aisles 
and  doorways  of  the  reception  haU.  In  company  with  Mr. 
George  W.  Clark,  Captain  Walker  was  drafted  into  the  work 
of  arousing  the  masses,  and  the  two  agitators  received  a  cor- 
dial hearing  at  many  New  England  meetings.  Doubtless  the 
recital  of  the  Captain's  experiences  intensified  anti-slavery 
feeling  throughout  the  Northern  states.^ 

About  1847,  Mrs.  Laura  S.  Haviland  accepted  a  mission  to 
find  the  family  of  one  John  White,  a  slave,  who  had  escaped 
from  the  South  and  was  serving  as  a  farm-hand  in  the  neigh- 
borhood of  Mrs.  Haviland's  school  in  southeastern  IMichigan. 
Mrs.  Haviland  went  to  Cincinnati  where  she  consulted  with 
the  Vigilance  Committee,  and  thence  to  Rising  Sun,  Indiana, 
to  secure  the  services  of  several  of  John  White's  colored 
friends.  Here  a  plan  was  formed  for  i\Irs.  Haviland  to  go 
into  Kentucky  to  the  plantation  where  the  family  lived,  and, 
disguised  as  a  berry  picker,  see  the  wife,  inform  her  of  her 

''■Liberator,  Aug.  15,  1845,  "The  Branded  Hand,"  quoted  in  part  by 
WUson,  History  of  the  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power  in  America,  Vol. 
H,  p.  83;  Whittier's  Poetical  Works,  Vol.  Ill,  Riverside  edition,  1896, 
p.  114. 

'  Reminiscences  written  by  George  W.  Clark,  by  request,  have  been  used 
to  secure  an  intimate  acquaintance  with  some  of  the  men  engaged  iu  the 
nnderground  service. 


husband's  whereabouts,  and  offer  to  assist  in  her  rescue.  Ac- 
complishing this  errand  and  returning  across  the  border  into 
Indiana,  Mrs.  Haviland  awaited  the  slave-woman's  appear- 
ance; but  her  escape  had  been  prevented  by  the  vigilance 
evoked  on  account  of  the  operations  of  counterfeiters  in 
Kentucky.  Then  John  White  started  South  intent  on 
saving  his  wife  and  children  from  slavery,  but  his  efforts 
also  were  unsuccessful,  and  he  was  thrown  into  a  Kentucky 
jail.  However,  he  was  soon  released  by  Laura  Haviland, 
who  purchased  him  for  three  hundred  and  fifty  dollars.^ 

In  the  summer  of  1847,  Captain  Daniel  Drayton  sailed  to 
Washington  with  a  cargo  of  oysters,  and  while  his  boat  was 
lying  at  the  wharf  he  was  cautiously  approached  by  a  negro, 
who  wanted  to  get  passage  North  for  a  woman  and  five  chil- 
dren. The  negro  said  the  woman  was  a  slave  but  that  she 
had,  under  an  agreement  with  her  master,  more  than  paid 
for  her  liberty,  and  when  she  asked  for  her  "  free  papers " 
the  master  only  answered  by  threatening  to  sell  her  South.^ 
Captain  Drayton  allowed  the  woman  and  her  children  and  a 
niece  to  stow  themselves  on  board  his  vessel,  and  he  soon 
landed  them  at  Frenchtown,  to  the  great  joy  of  the  woman's 
husband,  who  was  awaiting  them  there. 

It  was  by  the  suggestion  of  these  fugitives  that  Captain  Dray- 
ton undertook  his  important  expedition  with  the  schooner  PearZ 
in  1848.  On  the  evening  of  April  18  his  boat  was  made  fast 
at  one  of  the  Washington  docks  ready  to  receive  a  company 
of  fugitives.  The  time  seemed  auspicious.  The  establish- 
ment of  the  new  French  Republic  was  being  celebrated  in 
the  city  by  a  grand  torchlight  procession,  and  slaves  were 
left  for  the  most  part  to  their  own  devices.  Thus  favored,  a 
large  number  escaped  to  the  small  craft  of  Captain  Drayton 
and  were  carefully  stowed  away.  The  start  was  made  with- 
out incident,  and  the  vessel  continued  quietly  on  her  course 
to  the  mouth  of  the  Potomac;  there,  contrary  winds  were 
encountered,  and  the  Pearl  was  brought  to  shelter  in  Corn- 
field Harbor,  one  hundred  and  forty  miles  from  Washington. 
The  disappearance  of  seventy-six  slaves  at  one  time  caused 

1  Laura  S.  Haviland,  A  Woman's  Life  Work,  pp.  91-110. 

2  Personal  Memoir  of  Daniel  Drayton,  1853,  p.  23. 


great  excitement  at  the  Capitol.  The  method  of  their  depart- 
ure was  revealed  by  a  colored  hackman,  who  had  driven  two 
of  the  fugitives  to  the  wharf.  An  armed  steamer  was  sent 
in  pursuit,  and  the  Pearl  was  obliged  to  surrender.  Her 
arrival  under  guard  at  Washington  was  the  occasion  for  re- 
joicing to  an  infuriated  mob  of  several  thousand  persons. 
The  slaves  were  committed  to  jail  as  runaways ;  their  helpers 
were  with  difficulty  protected  from  murderous  violence,  and 
were  escorted  to  the  city  prison.  Under  instructions  from 
the  district  attorney  twenty-four  indictments  were  found 
against  both  Captain  Drayton  and  his  mate,  Mr.  Sayres. 
When  the  trial  began  in  July,  the  list  of  indictments  pre- 
sented comprised  forty-one  counts  against  each  of  these  pris- 
oners. Three  persons  were  prosecuted;  and  the  aggregate 
amount  of  their  bail  was  two  hundred  and  twenty-eight  thou- 
sand dollars.  After  two  trials  the  accused  were  heavily  sen- 
tenced, and  remanded  to  jail  until  their  fines  should  be  paid. 
The  sentence  passed  upon  Captain  Drayton  required  the  pay- 
ment of  fines  and  costs  together  amounting  to  ten  thousand 
and  sixty  dollars,  and  until  paid  the  prisoner  must  remain  in 
jail  indefinitely.^  His  accomplices  were  treated  with  equal 
severity.  Such  penalties  were  accounted  monstrous  by  the 
friends  of  the  convicted,  and  efforts  were  constantly  made  to 
have  the  sentences  mitigated  or  revoked.  In  1852  Senator 
Sumner  interested  himself  in  behalf  of  the  imprisoned  liber- 
ators ;  and  President  Fillmore  was  induced  to  grant  them  an 
unconditional  pardon. 

The  occurrence  of  these  events  at  the  national  capital  dur- 
ing a  session  of  Congress,  gave  them  a  significance  they  would 
not  otherwise  have  had.  That  they  would  become  the  subject  of 
much  fierce  debate  was  assured  by  the  presence  in  Congress 
of  such  champions  as  Messrs.  Giddings  and  Hale  for  the  anti- 
slavery  party,  and  Messrs.  Foote,  Toombs,  Calhoun  and  Davis 
for  the  pro-slavery  party.  Mr.  Calhoun  expressed  the  view 
of  the  South  when,  speaking  upon  a  resolution  brought  be- 
fore the  Senate  by  Mr.  Hale,  April  20,  he  recorded  himself 
as  being  in  favor  of  an  act  making  penal  "  these  atrocities, 
these  piratical  attempts,  these  wholesale  captures,  these  rob- 
1  Personal  Memoir  of  Daniel  Drayton,  p.  102. 


beries  of  seventy  odd  of  our  slaves  at  a  single  grasp."  In 
this  and  in  similar  utterances  made  at  the  time,  he  fore- 
shadowed the  determination  of  the  South  to  have  a  law 
that  would  restrain  if  possible  from  all  temptations  to  aid 
or  abet  the  escape  of  slaves.  The  result  of  this  determina- 
tion is  seen  in  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850. 

This  notable  voyage  of  the  Pearl,  which  caused  so  great  an 
excitement  at  the  time,  has  been  frequently  chronicled,  while 
the  experiences  of  the  young  Quaker,  Richard  Dillingham, 
have  been  seldom  recounted,  though  marked  by  the  same  ele- 
ments of  daring  and  resignation.  In  December,  1848,  the 
close  of  the  year  of  the  PearVs  adventure,  Mr.  Dillingham 
was  solicited  by  some  colored  people  in  Cincinnati,  Ohio,  to 
go  to  Tennessee  and  bring  away  their  relatives,  who  were 
slaves  under  a  "  hard  master  "  at  Nashville.  He  entered  upon 
the  project,  made  his  way  into  the  very  heart  of  the  South  and 
arranged  with  the  slaves  for  their  escape.  At  the  time  ap- 
pointed his  thi'ee  prot^g^s  were  placed  in  a  closed  carriage 
and  driven  rapidly  away,  Mr.  Dillingham  following  on  horse- 
back. The  party  got  as  far  as  Cumberland  bridge,  where 
they  were  betrayed  by  a  colored  man  in  whom  confidence  had 
been  placed,  and  the  fugitives  and  their  benefactor  were  ar- 
rested. Mr.  Dillingham  was  committed  to  jail,  and  his  bail 
was  fixed  at  seven  thousand  dollars.  At  his  trial,  which 
occurred  April  12,  1849,  Dillingham  confessed,  and  asked 
for  clemency,  urging  by  way  of  explanation  the  dependence 
of  his  aged  parents  upon  him  as  a  stay  and  protection.  As 
to  the  crime  for  which  he  was  held  he  said  fi-ankly:  "I 
have  violated  your  laws.  .  .  .  But  I  was  prompted  to  it  by 
feelings  of  humanity.  It  has  been  suspected  .  .  .  that  I 
was  leagued  with  a  fraternity  who  are  combined  for  the  pur- 
pose of  committing  such  offences  as  the  one  with  which  I  am 
charged.  But  .  .  .  the  impression  is  false,  I  alone  am  guilty, 
I  alone  committed  the  offence,  and  I  alone  must  suffer  the 
penalty.  ..."  Yielding  to  his  plea  for  clemency  the  jury 
returned  a  verdict  for  three  years  in  the  penitentiary,  the 
mildest  sentence  allowed  by  the  law  for  the  offence.  The 
Nashville  Daily  G-azette  of  April  13  did  not  conceal  the 
fact  that  Mr.  Dillingham  belonged  to  a  respectable  family, 


and  stated  that  he  was  not  without  the  sympathy  of  those 
who  attended  the  trial.^  The  prisoner  himself  was  most 
grateful  for  the  consideration  shown  him,  and,  in  a  letter  to 
his  betrothed  written  two  days  after  his  trial,  he  spoke  of  his 
short  sentence  with  the  deepest  gratitude  and  thankfulness 
toward  the  court  and  jury  and  the  prosecutors  themselves. 
"  My  sentence,"  he  added,  "  is  far  more  lenient  than  my  most 
sanguine  hopes  have  ever  anticipated."  ^  The  termination 
of  the  imprisonment  of  Dillingham  was  most  melancholy. 
Separated  from  his  aged  parents,  to  whom  he  was  devoted, 
and  from  the  woman  that  was  to  have  become  his  wife, 
his  health  soon  proved  unequal  to  the  severe  experiences 
of  prison  life;  his  keepers  after  nine  months  gave  him 
respite  from  heavy  work  about  the  prison,  and  assigned  him 
the  place  of  steward  in  the  hospital.  He  had  not  long  been 
in  his  new  station  when  cholera  broke  out  among  the  con- 
victs, and  his  services  were  in  constant  demand.  His  strength 
was  soon  exhausted,  and  about  the  first  of  August,  1850, 
he  succumbed  to  the  dread  epidemic  raging  in  the  prison.^ 

It  was  the  year  in  which  young  Dillingham  came  to  his 
melancholy  end  that  Mr.  William  L.  Chaplin  was  found 
guilty  of  an  offence  similar  to  that  for  which  Dillingham 
suffered.*  When  Mr.  ChETrles  T.  Torrey,  editor  of  the  Albany 
Patriot,  was  sent  to  the  Maryland  penitentiary  for  aiding 
slaves  to  escape,  Mr.  Chaplin  assumed  control  of  Mr.  Torrey's 
paper.  Like  his  predecessor,  Mr.  Chaplin  spent  part  of  his 
time  in  the  city  of  Washington  reporting  congressional  pro- 
ceedings for  the  Patriot,  and  like  him  could  not  be  deaf  to 
an  entreaty  in  behalf  of  slaves.  In  1850  Mr.  Chaplin  was 
prevailed  upon  to  attempt  the  release  from  bondage  of  two 

1  A.  L.  Benedict,  Memoir  of  Richard  Dillingham,  1852,  p.  18.  Also  Harriet 
Beecher  Stows,  A  Key  to  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin,  pp.  58,  59. 

2  A.  L.  Benedict,  Memoir  of  JRichard  Dillingham,  p.  18. 

'  This  account  of  Richard  Dillingham  is  ha-sed  on  the  Memoir  written  by 
his  friend,  A.  L.  Benedict,  a  Quaker,  and  puhlished  in  1852.  Abridged 
versions  of  this  memoir  will  be  found  in  the  Reminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin, 
Appendix,  pp.  713-718  ;  and  Howe's  Sistorical  Collections  of  Ohio,  Vol.  II, 
p.  590. 

*  Wilson,  History  of  the  Rise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Fewer  in  America, 
Vol.  n,  pp.  80-82. 


negroes,  one  the  property  of  Eobert  Toombs,  the  other,  of 
Alexander  H.  Stephens.  The  sequel  to  this  enterprise  is 
thus  recounted  by  Mr.  George  W.  Clark,  an  intimate  friend 
of  General  Chaplin's:  "Suspicion  was  somehow  awakened 
and  watch  set;  the  General  was  intercepted,  arrested  and 
imprisoned,  and  the  attempt  failed.  The  General  gave  bail. 
Secretary  Seward  being  on  his  bond  for  five  thousand  dollars. 
While  passing  through  Baltimore  on  his  return  home  he  was 
rearrested  and  put  into  .  .  .  prison  there,  on  a  charge  of  aiding 
slaves  to  escape  from  that  state.  The  bonds  required  were 
twenty  thousand  dollars.  ...  It  was  arranged  that  William 
R.  Smith,  a  noble  and  generous-hearted  Quaker,  and  George 
W.  Clark  should  traverse  the  State  and  appeal  to  the  friends 
of  humanity  for  contributions  to  save  the  General  from  the 
fate  we  feared  awaited  him,  for  if  his  case  went  to  trial  he 
would  probably  be  sentenced  to  fifteen  years  in  their  State 
Prison,  which  would  no  doubt  amount  to  a  death  sentence. 
William  R.  Smith  and  I  went  to  work  in  live  earnest.  An 
abolition  merchant,  Mr.  Chittenden  of  New  York,  gave  us 
three  thousand  dollars,  the  always  giving  Gerrit  Smith  gave 
us  five  thousand,  other  friends  gave  us  two  thousand,  but 
we  still  lacked  ten  thousand.  .  .  .  We  were  in  great  distress 
and  anxiety  over  the  extreme  situation  when  the  generous 
Gerrit  Smith  voluntarily  came  again  to  the  rescue  and  ad- 
vanced the  other  ten  thousand  dollars."  It  was  in  this  way, 
through  the  most  open-handed  generosity  of  his  friends,  that 
Mr.  Chaplin  was  enabled  to  go  free  after  being  in  jail  only 
five  months.  Prudence  dictated  the  sacrificing  of  the  exces- 
sive bail  rather  than  the  braving  of  fortune  through  a  trial 
certain  to  end  in  conviction. 

We  have  thus  far  considered  the  recorded  efforts  toward 
the  abduction  of  slaves  made  by  six  persons  in  response  to  the 
entreaty  of  the  slaves  concerned  or  of  some  of  their  friends. 
It  is  noteworthy  that  in  the  case  of  five  of  these  persons  their 
efforts,  first  or  last,  were  calamitous,  and  that  all  were  white 
persons.  We  come  now  to  the  case  of  Josiah  Henson,  excep- 
tional in  the  series,  by  reason  of  the  uniform  success  of  his 
endeavors,  and  because  of  his  race  connections.  Born  and 
bred  a  slave,  Henson  at  length  resolved  to  extricate  himself 


and  family  from  the  abjectness  of  their  situation.  "With 
a  degree  of  prudence,  courage  and  address,"  says  Mrs.  Harriet 
Beecher  Stowe,  "which  can  scarcely  find  a  parallel  in  any 
history,  he  managed  with  his  wife  and  two  children  to  escape 
to  Canada.  Here  he  learned  to  read,  and,  by  his  superior 
talent  and  capacity  for  management,  laid  the  foundation  for 
the  fugitive  settlement  of  Dawn.  .  .  . "  ^  The  possession  of 
the  qualities  indicated  in  this  characterization  of  Mr.  Henson 
rendered  him  equal  to  such  emergencies  as  arose  in  his 
missions  to  the  South  in  search  of  friends  and  relatives  of 
Canadian  refugees. 

Mr.  Henson  has  left  us  the  record  of  two  journeys  to  the 
Southern  states,  made  at  the  instance  of  James  Lightfoot, 
a  refugee  of  Fort  Erie,  Ontario.^  Lightfoot  had  a  number 
of  relatives  in  slavery  near  Maysville,  Kentucky,  and  was 
ready  to  use  the  little  property  he  had  accumulated  during 
the  short  period  of  his  freedom  in  securing  the  liberation  of 
his  family.  Beginning  the  journey  alone,  Mr.  Henson  travelled 
on  foot  about  four  hundred  miles  through  New  York,  Penn- 
sylvania and  Ohio,  to  his  destination.  The  fact  that  the 
Lightfoots  decided  it  to  be  unsafe  to  make  their  escape  at  this 
time  did  not  prevent  their  visitor  from  agreeing  to  come  a 
year  later  for  them,  nor  did  it  prevent  him  from  returning  to 
Canada  with  companions.  He  went  nearly  fifty  miles  into  the 
interior  of  Kentucky,  where,  as  he  learned,  there  was  a  large 
party  eager  to  set  out  for  a  land  of  freedom,  but  waiting  until 
an  experienced  leader  should  appear.  In  Bourbon  County  he 
found  about  thirty  fugitives  collected  from  different  states, 
and  with  these  he  started  northward.  Mr.  Henson  gives  his 
itinerary  in  the  following  words :  "  We  succeeded  in  crossing 
the  Ohio  River  in  safety,  and  arrived  in  Cincinnati  the  third 
night  after  our  departure.  Here  we  procured  assistance ;  and, 
after  stopping  a  short  time  to  rest,  we  started  for  Richmond, 
Indiana.  This  is  a  town  which  had  been  settled  by  Quakers, 
and  there  we  found  friends  indeed,  who  at  once  helped  us  on 
our  way,  without  loss  of  time ;  and  after  a  difficult  journey 

^  A  Key  to  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin,  1853,  Boston  edition  of  1896,  pp.  274, 
275 ;  also  Father  Benson's  Story  of  Sis  Own  Life,  1858,  chaps,  xii,  xlii. 
2  Father  Benson's  Story  of  Bis  Own  Life,  chaps,  xvi,  xvii. 


of  two  weeks  through  the  wilderness,  reached  Toledo,  Ohio, 
.  .  .  and  there  we  took  passage  for  Canada."  ^  In  the  autumn 
of  the  year  following  this  abduction  Mr.  Henson  again  visited 
Kentucky.  This  time  several  of  the  Lightfoots  were  willing 
to  go  North  with  him,  and  a  Saturday  night  after  dark  was 
chosen  as  the  time  for  setting  out.  In  spite  of  some  untoward 
happenings  during  the  early  part  of  the  journey,  and  of  pur- 
suit even  to  Lake  Erie,  the  daring  guide  and  his  party  of  four 
or  five  were  put  aboard  a  sailing-vessel  and  safely  landed  on 
Canadian  soil.  "  Words  cannot  describe,"  writes  Mr.  Henson, 
"  the  feelings  experienced  by  my  companions  as  they  neared 
the  shore  ;  their  bosoms  were  swelling  with  inexpressible  joy 
as  they  mounted  the  seats  of  the  boat,  ready  eagerly  to  spring 
forward,  that  they  might  touch  the  soil  of  the  freeman.  And 
when  they  reached  the  shore  they  danced  and  wept  for  joy, 
and  kissed  the  earth  on  which  they  first  stepped,  no  longer 
the  Slave,  but  the  Free.''''  Mr.  Henson  asserts,  that  "by 
similar  means  to  those  above  narrated,"  he  was  "instrumental 
in  delivering  one  hundred  and  eighteen  human  beings  "  from 

Important  and  interesting  among  the  abductors  are  the  few 
individuals  that  we  must  call,  for  want  of  a  better  designation, 
the  devotees  of  abduction.  We  have  already  considered  a 
person  of  this  type  in  the  odd  character,  John  Fairfield,  the 
Vir^nian.  There  are  several  other  persons  known  to  have 
been  not  less  zealous  than  he  in  their  violation  of  what  were 
held  in  the  South  to  be  legitimate  property  rights.  The 
names  of  these  adventurous  liberators  are  Rial  Cheadle,  Alex- 
ander M.  Ross,  Elijah  Anderson,  John  Mason  and  Harriet 

Rial  Cheadle  appears  to  have  been  a  familiar  figure  among 
the  abolitionists  of  southeastern  Ohio.  Mr.  Thomas  L.  Gray, 
a  reputable  citizen  of  Deavertown,  Ohio,  for  many  years  en- 
gaged in  underground  operations  in  Morgan  County,  vouches 
for  the  extended  and  aggressive  work  of  Cheadle,  who  fre- 
quently stopped  at  Mr.  Gray's  house  for  rest  and  refreshment 

1  Father  Henson' s  Story  of  His  Own  Life,  pp.  149,  150. 

2  Ibid.,  pp.  162,  163. 


on  his  midnight  trips  to  Zanesville  and  stations  farther  on.^ 
Cheadle  seems  to  have  been  a  man  of  eccentricities,  if  not  of 
actual  aberration  of  mind ;  or  his  oddities  may  have  been  as- 
sumed to  prevent  himself  being  taken  seriously  by  those  he 
wanted  to  despoil.  He  is  said  to  have  lived  in  Windsor 
Township,  Morgan  County,  Ohio,  on  the  site  of  the  present 
village  of  Stockport,  and  to  have  engaged  in  teaching  and 
other  occupations  for  a  time ;  finally,  however,  he  devoted  him- 
self to  the  work  of  the  Underground  Road.  He  indulged  him- 
self in  old-time  minstrelsy,  composing  songs,  which  he  sang  for 
the  entertainment  of  himself  and  others,  and  he  thereby  in- 
creased, doubtless,  the  reputation  for  harmless  imbecility,  which 
he  seems  to  have  borne  among  those  ignorant  of  his  purpose. 
He  paid  occasional  visits  to  Virginia.  "As  a  result  it  is 
said  the  slaves  were  frequently  missing,  but  as  his  arrange- 
ments were  carefully  made  the  object  of  his  visit  was  usually 
successful.  .  .  .  His  habits  were  so  well  known  to  those  who 
gave  food  and  shelter  to  the  negro  that  they  were  seldom  un- 
prepared for  a  nocturnal  visit  from  him.  .  .  .  After  the 
Emancipation,  he  said  he  was  like  Simeon  of  old,  '  ready  to 
depart.'     He  died  in  1867."  2 

A  man  differing  greatly  from  Rial  Cheadle  in  all  respects, 
save  the  intensity  of  his  compassion  for  the  slave,  was  the 
abductor  Alexander  M.  Ross.  Born  in  1832  in  the  Prov- 
ince of  Ontario,  Canada,  Mr.  Ross  sought,  when  a  yo^g 
man,  to  inform  himself  upon  the  question  of  American 
slavery,  not  only  from  the  teachings  of  some  of  the  fore- 
most anti-slavery  leaders  of  England  and  the  United  States, 
but  also  from  the  recital  of  their  experiences  by  a  number  of 
fugitive  slaves  that  had  found  an  asylum  in  the  province  of 
his  birth.  While  he  was  engaged  in  making  inquiries  among 
the  refugees.  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin  was  published,  and  brought 
conviction  to  many  minds.  "To  me,"  writes  Mr.  Ross,  "it 
was  a  command.     A  deep  and  settled  conviction  impressed 

1  The  New  Lexington  (Ohio)  Tribune,  -winter  of  1885-1886.  Some  in- 
formation in  regard  to  Cheadle  appears  in  a  series  of  articles  on  the  Under- 
ground Railroad  contributed  to  this  paper  by  Mr.  Gray. 

2  History  of  Morgan  County,  Ohio,  1886,  published  by  Charles  Robertson, 
M.D.,  article  on  the  Underground  Railroad. 


me  that  it  was  my  duty  to  lielp  the  oppressed  to  free- 
dom. .  .  .  My  resolution  was  taken  to  devote  all  my  en- 
ergies to  let  the  oppressed  go  free."  ^  In  accordance  with 
this  resolution  young  Ross  left  Canada  in  November,  1856. 
He  visited  Gerrit  Smith,  at  Peterboro,  New  York,  who  was 
ever  ready  to  encourage  the  liberation  of  the  slave,  and  who 
went  with  him  to  Boston,  New  York  and  Philadelphia,  and 
westward  into  the  states  of  Ohio  and  Indiana.  The  purpose 
of  these  travels  was,  evidently,  to  acquaint  the  intending 
liberator  with  the  means  to  be  employed  by  him  in  his  new 
work,  and  with  the  persons  in  connection  with  whom  he  was 
to  operate.  Indeed,  Mr.  Ross  distinctly  says,  in  speaking  of 
these  visits,  "I  was  initiated  into  a  knowledge  of  the  relief 
societies,  and  the  methods  adopted  to  circulate  information 
among  the  slaves  of  the  South;  the  routes  to  be  taken  by 
the  slaves,  after  reaching  the  so-called  free  states ;  and  the 
relief  posts,  where  shelter  and  aid  for  transportation  could  be 
obtained."  ^  His  chief  supporters,  besides  Gerrit  Smith,  were 
Theodore  Parker  and  Lewis  Tappan.* 

During  his  expeditions  Mr.  Ross  spread  the  knowledge  of 
Canada  among  the  slaves  in  the  neighborhood  of  a  number  of 
Southern  cities,  such  as  Richmond,  Virginia,  Nashville,  Ten- 
nessee, Columbus  and  Vicksburg,  Mississippi,  Selma  and 
Huntsville,  Alabama,  Augusta,  Georgia,  and  Charleston, 
South  Carolina.  His  method  of  procedure  was  fixed  in  its 
details  only  after  his  arrival  upon  the  scene  of  action;  an 
ostensible  interest  or  purpose  was  kept  to  the  fore,  and  the 
real  business  of  spreading  the  gospel  of  escape  was  reserved 
for  clandestine  conferences  with  slaves  chosen  on  the  score  of 
intelligence  and  trustworthiness.  These  persons  were  in- 
formed how  Canada  could  be  best  reached,  and  were  told  to 
spread  with  care  the  information  among  their  fellows.  If 
any  decided  within  a  few  days  that  they  would  act  upon  the 
advice  given   them,  explicit   instructions  were   repeated  to 

1  Dr.  Alexander  Milton  Ross,  Recollections  and  Experiences  of  an  Aboli- 
tionist; from  1855  to  1865,  2d  ed.,  1876,  p.  3.  The  first  edition  of  tMs 
book  was  issued  in  1867.  Por  this  and  other  works  of  Mr.  Ross  see  Promi- 
nent Men  of  Canada,  pp.  118,  119,  120. 

^  Ross,  Recollections  and,  Experiences  of  an  Abolitionist,  p.  5. 

8  Ibid.,  p.  8. 

3  5, 


them,  and  they  were  supplied  with  compasses,  knives,  pistols, 
money  and  such  provisions  as  they  needed.  Thus  equipped, 
they  were  started  on  their  long  and  dangerous  journey.  Oc- 
casionally, when  circumstances  seemed  to  require  it,  Mr.  Ross 
would  personally  guide  the  party  to  a  station  of  the  Under- 
ground Road,  or  even  accompany  it  to  Canada ;  otherwise  he 
betook  himself  in  haste  to  some  new  field  of  labor.  The  un- 
impeachable character  of  Mr.  Ross,  and  the  early  appearance 
of  the  first  edition  of  his  Recollections  make  his  reminiscences 
especially  valuable  and  worth  quoting.  Mr.  Ross  began  his 
work  at  Richmond  early  in  the  year  1857.  His  narrative  of 
his  first  venture  is  as  follows :  "  On  my  arrival  in  Richmond, 
I  went  to  the  house  of  a  gentleman  to  whom  I  had  been 
directed,  and  who  was  known  at  the  North  to  be  a  friend  of 
freedom.  I  spent  a  few  weeks  in  quietly  determining  upon 
the  best  plans  to  adopt.  Having  finally  decided  upon  my 
course,  I  invited  a  number  of  the  most  intelligent,  active  and 
reliable  slaves  to  meet  me  at  the  house  of  a  colored  preacher, 
on  a  Sunday  evening.  On  the  night  appointed  for  this  meet- 
ing, forty-two  slaves  came  to  hear  what  prospect  there  was 
for  an  escape  from  bondage.  ...  I  explained  to  them  my 
.  .  .  purpose  in  visiting  the  slave  states,  the  various  routes 
from  Virginia  to  Ohio  and  Pennsylvania,  and  the  names  of 
friends  in  border  towns  who  would  help  them  on  to  Canada. 
I  requested  them  to  circulate  this  information  discreetly 
among  all  upon  whom  they  could  rely.  ...  I  requested  as 
many  as  were  ready  to  accept  my  offer,  to  come  to  the  same 
house  on  the  following  Sunday  evening,  prepared  to  take 
the  '  Underground  Railroad '  to  Canada. 

"  On  the  evening  appointed  nine  stout,  intelligent  young 
men  declared  their  determination  to  gain  their  freedom,  or 
die  in  the  attempt.  To  each  I  gave  a  few  dollars  in  money, 
a  pocket  compass,  knife,  pistol,  and  as  much  cold  meat  and 
bread  as  each  could  carry  with  ease.  I  again  explained  to 
them  the  route.  ...  I  never  met  more  apt  students  than 
these  poor  fellows.  .  .  .  They  were  to  travel  only  by  night, 
resting  in  some  secure  spot  during  the  day.  Their  route  was 
to  be  through  Pennsylvania,  to  Erie  on  Lake  Erie,  and  from 
thence  to  Canada.  ...     I  learned,  many  months  after,  that 


they  all  had  arrived  safely  in  Canada.  (In  1863  I  enlisted 
three  of  these  brave  fellows  in  a  colored  regiment  in  Phila- 
delphia, for  service  in  the  war  that  gave  freedom  to   their 

race.)"  ^ 

Mr.  Ross  was  a  naturalist,  and  his  tastes  in  this  direction 
furnished  him  many  good  pretexts  for  excursions.  A  jour- 
ney into  the  far  South  was  made  in  the  guise  of  an  ornithol- 
ogist. Describing  his  trip  to  the  cotton  states  Mr.  Ross 
says :  "  Finally  my  preparations  were  completed,  and,  sup- 
plied with  a  shot-gun  and  materials  for  preserving  bird-skins, 
I  began  my  journey  into  the  interior  of  the  country.  .  .  . 
Soon  after  my  arrival  at  Vicksburg  I  was  busily  engaged  in 
collecting  ornithological  specimens.  I  made  frequent  visits 
to  the  surrounding  plantations,  seizing  every  favorable  op- 
portunity to  converse  with  the  more  intelligent  slaves. 
Many  of  these  negroes  had  heard  of  Canada  from  the  ne- 
groes brought  from  Virginia  and  the  border  slave  states ; 
but  the  impression  they  had  was,  that  Canada  being  so  far 
away,  it  would  be  useless  to  try  and  reach  it.  On  these  ex- 
cursions I  was  usually  accompanied  by  one  or  two  smart, 
intelligent  slaves,  to  whom  I  felt  I  could  trust  the  secret  of 
my  visit.  In  this  way  I  succeeded  in  circulating  a  know- 
ledge of  Canada,  and  the  best  means  of  reaching  that  coun- 
try, to  all  the  plantations  for  many  miles  around  Vicksburg. 
...  I  continued  my  labors  in  the  vicinity  of  Vicksburg 
for  several  weeks  and  then  went  to  Selma,  Alabama."  ^ 

In  the  ways  described  in  these  selections  Mr.  Ross  induced 
companies  of  slaves  to  exchange  bondage  for  freedom.  How 
many  he  thus  liberated  we  have,  of  course,  no  means  of 
knowing.  The  risks  he  ran  were  such  as  to  put  his  life  in 
danger  almost  constantly.  Betrayal  would  have  ended, 
probably,  in  a  lynching ;  and  the  disappearance  simultane- 
ously of  a  band  of  fugitives  and  the  unknown  naturalist  was 
a  coincidence  not  only  sure  to  be  noticed,  but  also  widely 
published,  thus  increasing  the  dangers  many  fold.  It  is  un- 
necessary to  recount  the  occasions  upon  which  the  scientist 
found  himself  in  danger  of  falling  a  victim  to  his  zeal  in 

1  Ross,  Secollections  and  Experiences  of  an  Abolitionist,  pp.  10,  11,  12. 

2  Ihid.,  pp.  37,  38,  39. 


befriending  slaves.  Suffice  it  to  say,  his  adventures  all  had 
a  fortunate  termination.  Mr.  Ross  is  best  known  by  his 
numerous  works  relating  to  the  flora  and  fauna  of  Canada, 
for  which  he  received  recognition  among  learned  men,  and 
decoration  at  the  hands  of  European  princes."  ^ 

Elijah  Anderson,  a  negro,  has  been  described  by  Mr.  Rush 
R.  Sloane,  an  underground  veteran  of  northwestern  Ohio,  as 
the  "  general  superintendent "  of  the  underground  system  in 
this  section  of  Ohio.  Mr.  Anderson's  work  began  before  the 
enactment  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850,  and  continued 
until  the  time  of  his  incarceration  in  the  state  prison  at 
Frankfort,  Kentucky,  where  he  died  in  1857.  During  this 
period  his  activity  must  have  been  unceasing,  for  he  is 
quoted  as  having  said  in  1855  that  he  had  conducted  in  all 
more  than  a  thousand  fugitives  from  slavery  to  freedom, 
having  brought  eight  hundred  away  after  the  passage  of  the 
act  of  1850.  Not  all  of  these  persons  were  piloted  to  San- 
dusky, although  that  city  was  the  point  to  which  Anderson 
usually  conveyed  his  passengers.  After  the  opening  of  the 
Cleveland  and  Cincinnati  Railroad  he  took  many  to  Cleve- 

The  last  two  of  the  devotees  of  abduction  to  be  considered 
in  this  chapter  are  persons  that  were  themselves  fugitive 
slaves,  John  Mason  and  Harriet  Tubman. 

Our  only  source  of  information  about  John  Mason  is  an 
account  printed  in  1860,  by  the  Rev.  W.  M.  Mitchell,  a  col- 
ored missionary  sent  to  minister  to  the  refugees  of  Toronto 
by  the  American  Baptist  Free  Mission  Society.'    This  may  be 

1  Mr.  Richard  J.  Hinton  in  his  book  entitled  John  Brown  and  His  Men, 
p.  171,  while  writing  of  Captain  Brown's  convention  at  Chatham,  Canada 
West,  mentions  Mr.  Eoss  in  the  following  words:  "Dr.  Alexander  M.  Eoss 
of  Toronto,  Canada,  physician  and  ornithologist,  who  is  still  living,  honored 
by  all  who  know  him,  then  a  young  (white)  man  who  devoted  himself  for 
years  to  aiding  the  American  slave,  was  a  frequent  visitor  to  this  section 
(Chatham).  He  was  a  faithful  friend  of  John  Brown,  efificient  as  an  ally, 
seeking  to  serve  under  all  conditions  of  need  and  peril." 

More  or  less  extended  notices  of  Dr.  Ross  and  his  work  have  appeared 
during  the  past  few  years ;  for  example,  in  the  Toronto  Globe,  Dec.  3  and 
10,  1892 ;  in  the  Canadian  Magazine  of  Politics,  Science,  Art  and  Litera- 
ture, May,  1896 ;  and  in  the  Chicago  Daily  Inter-Ocean,  March  18, 1896. 

2  The  Firelands  Pioneer,  July,  1888,  p.  44.  »  See  p.  3,  Chapter  L 


accepted  as  a  credible  source.  The  author  has  printed  in  the 
little  book  in  which  the  account  appears  testimonials  that 
serve  to  identify  him,  but  better  than  these  are  the  references 
found  in  the  body  of  the  book  to  underground  matters  per- 
taining to  southern  Ohio  that  have  been  made  familiar 
through  other  channels  of  information.  The  statements  of 
Mr.  Mitchell,  thus  supported,  lend  the  color  of  probability  to 
other  statements  of  his  not  corroborated  by  any  information 
now  to  be  obtained,  especially  since  these  are  in  keeping  with 
known  manifestations  of  liberating  zeal.  We  may  therefore 
use  the  narrative  relating  to  John  Mason  with  a  certain  de- 
gree of  assurance  as  to  its  accuracy. 

While  engaged  in  Underground  Railroad  operations  in  Ohio 
Mr.  Mitchell  became  acquainted  with  John  Mason,  a  fugitive 
slave  from  Kentucky.  He  had  obtained  his  liberty  but  was 
not  content  to  see  his  fellows  go  without  theirs,  and  "  was 
willing,"  wrote  Mr.  Mitchell,  "to  risk  the  forfeiture  of  his 
own  freedom,  that  he  might,  peradventure,  secure  the  liberty 
of  some.  He  commenced  the  perilous  business  of  going  into 
the  State  from  whence  he  had  escaped  and  especially  into  his 
old  neighborhood,  decoying  off  his  brethren  to  Canada.  .  .  . 
This  slave  brought  to  my  house  in  nineteen  months  265  hu- 
man beings  whom  he  had  been  instrumental  in  redeeming 
from  slavery ;  all  of  whom  I  had  the  privilege  of  forwarding 
to  Canada  by  the  Underground  Railroad.  .  .  .  He  kept  no 
record  as  to  the  number  he  had  assisted  in  this  way.  I  have 
only  been  able,  from  conversations  with  him  on  the  subject, 
to  ascertain  about  1,300,  whom  he  delivered  to  abolitionists 
to  be  forwarded  to  Canada.  Poor  man !  he  was  finally  cap- 
tured and  sold.  He  had  been  towards  the  interior  of  Ken- 
tucky, about  fifty  miles ;  it  was  while  returning  with  four 
slaves  that  he  was  captured.  .  .  .  Daylight  came  on  them, 
they  concealed  themselves  under  stacks  of  corn,  which  served 
them  for  food,  as  well  as  protection  from  the  weather  and 
passers-by.  .  .  .  Late  in  the  afternoon  of  that  day,  in  the 
distance  was  heard  the  baying  of  negro-hounds  on  their  track; 
escape  was  impossible.  .  .  .  When  the  four  slaves  saw  their 
masters  they  said,  '  J.  M.,  we  can't  fight.'  He  endeavored  to 
rally  their  courage  .  .  .  but  to  no  purpose.  .  .  .    Their  leader 


resisted,  but  both  his  arms  were  broken,  and  his  body  other- 
wise abused.  .  .  .  Though  he  had  changed  his  name,  as  most 
slaves  do  on  running  away,  he  told  his  master's  name  and  to 
him  he  was  delivered.  He  was  eventually  sold  and  was 
taken  to  New  Orleans.  .  .  .  Yet  in  one  year,  five  months, 
and  twenty  days,  I  received  a  letter  from  this  man,  John 
Mason,  from  Hamilton,  Canada  West.  Let  a  man  walk  abroad 
on  Freedom's  Sunny  Plains,  and  having  once  drunk  of  its 
celestial '  stream  whereof  maketh  glad  the  city  of  our  God,' 
afterward  reduce  this  man  to  slavery,  it  is  next  to  an  impos- 
sibility to  retain  him  in  slavery."  ^ 

Harriet  Tubman,  like  John  Mason,  did  not  reckon  the 
value  of  her  own  liberty  in  comparison  with  the  hberty  of 
others  who  had  not  tasted  its  sweets.  Like  him,  she  saw  in 
the  oppression  of  her  race  the  sufferings  of  the  enslaved 
Israelites,  and  was  not  slow  to  demand  that  the  Pharaoh  of 
the  South  should  let  her  people  go.  She  was  known  to  many 
of  the  anti-slavery  leaders  of  her  generation  ;  her  personality 
and  her  power  were  such  that  none  of  them  ever  forgot  the 
high  virtues  of  this  simple  black  woman.  Governor  William 
H.  Seward,  of  ISTew  York,  wrote  of  her :  "  I  have  known  Har- 
riet long,  and  a  nobler,  higher  spirit  or  a  truer,  seldom  dwells 
in  human  form."  ^  Gerrit  Smith  declared :  "  I  am  convinced 
that  she  is  not  only  truthful,  but  that  she  has  a  rare  discern- 
ment, and  a  deep  and  sublime  philanthropy."  ^  John  Brown 
introduced  her  to  Wendell  Phillips  in  Boston,  saying,  "  I  bring 
you  one  of  the  best  and  bravest  persons  on  this  continent  — 
General  Tubman  as  we  call  her."  *  Frederick  Douglass  testi- 
fied :  "  Excepting  John  Brown,  of  sacred  memory,  I  know  of 
no  one  who  has  willingly  encountered  more  perils  and  hard- 
ships to  serve  our  enslaved  people  than  you  have.     Much  that 

1  Mitchell,  The  Underground  Railroad,  p.  20  et  seg. 

"  Sarah  H.  Bradford,  Harriet  the  Moses  of  Her  People,  p.  76.  See  also 
Appendix,  p.  137.  These  testimonials  were  given  in  1868  and  were  printed 
in  connection  with  a  short  biography  of  Harriet  in  the  year  mentioned.  The 
first  edition  of  this  biography  has  not  been  accessible  to  me,  but  it  is  mentioned 
by  the  Rev.  Samuel  J.  May  in  his  Becollections  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Conflict, 
published  the  following  year.  The  second  edition  of  the  book  appeared  in 

'  Ibid.,  p.  139.  *  Hinton,  John  Brown  and  His  Men,  p.  173. 


you  have  done  would  seem  improbable  to  tliose  who  do  not 
know  you  as  I  know  you.  .  .  ."^  Mr.  F.  B.  Sanborn  said: 
"She  has  often  been  in  Concord,  where  she  resided  at  the 
houses  of  Emerson,  Alcott,  the  Whitneys,  the  Brooks  family, 
Mrs.  Horace  Mann,  and  other  well-known  persons.  They  all 
admired  and  respected  her,  and  nobody  doubted  the  reality  of 
her  adventures.  .  .  ."^  The  Rev.  S.  J.  May  knew  Harriet  per- 
sonally, and  speaks  with  admiration,  not  only  of  the  work  she 
did  in  emancipating  numbers  of  her  own  people,  but  also  of 
the  important  services  she  rendered  the  nation  during  the 
Civil  War  both  as  a  nurse  and  as  "  the  leader  of  soldiers  in 
scouting-parties  and  raids.  She  seemed  to  know  no  fear  and 
scarcely  ever  fatigue.     They  called  her  their  Moses."  ^ 

The  name,  Moses,  was  that  by  which  this  woman  was 
commonly  known.  She  earned  it  by  the  qualities  of  leader- 
ship displayed  in  conducting  bands  of  slaves  through  devious 
ways  and  manifold  perils  out  of  their  "  land  of  Egypt."  She 
first  learned  what  liberty  was  for  herself  about  the  year 
1849.  She  made  her  way  from  Maryland,  her  home  as  a 
slave,  to  Philadelphia,  and  there  by  industry  gathered  to- 
gether a  sum  of  money  with  which  to  begin  her  humane  and 
self-imposed  labors.  In  December,  1850,  she  went  to  Balti- 
more and  abducted  her  sister  and  two  children.  A  few 
months  later  she  brought  away  another  company  of  three  per- 
sons, one  of  whom  was  her  brother.  From  this  time  on  tiU 
the  outbreak  of  the  War  of  the  Rebellion  her  excursions  were 
frequent.  She  is  said  to  have  accomplished  nineteen  such 
trips,  and  emancipated  over  three  hundred  slaves.*  As  may 
be  surmised,  she  had  encouragement  in  her  undertakings ; 
but  her  main  dependence  was  upon  her  own  efforts.  AU 
her  wages  were  laid  aside  for  the  purpose  of  emancipating 
her  people.  Whenever  she  had  secured  a  sufficient  sum, 
she  would  disappear  from  her  Northern  home,  work  her 
passage  South,  and  meet  the  band  of  expectant  slaves,  whom 
she  had  forewarned  of  her  coming  in  some  mysterious  way. 

1  Mrs.  Bradford,  Harriet  the  Moses  of  Her  People,  p.  135. 

2  Ibid.,  pp.  136,  137.  8  Ibid.,  p.  406. 

^  James  Freeman  Clarke,  Anti-Slavery  Days,  pp.  81,  82.  Also  M.  6. 
McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  62. 


Her  sagacity  was  one  of  her  most  marked  traits ;  it  was 
displayed  constantly  in  her  management  of  her  little  cara- 
vans. Thus  she  would  take  the  precaution  to  start  with  her 
pilgrims  on  Saturday  night  so  that  they  could  be  well  along 
on  their  journey  before  they  were  advertised.  Posters  giv- 
ing descriptions  of  the  runaways  and  offering  a  considerable 
reward  for  their  arrest  were  a  common  means  of  making 
public  the  loss  of  slave  property.  Harriet  often  paid  a 
negro  to  follow  the  man  who  posted  the  descriptions  of  her 
companions  and  tear  them  down.  When  there  were  babies 
in  the  party  she  sometimes  drugged  them  with  paregoric  and 
had  them  carried  in  baskets.  She  knew  where  friends  could 
be  found  that  would  give  shelter  to  her  weary  freedmen.  If 
at  any  stage  of  the  journey  she  were  compelled  to  leave  her 
companions  and  forage  for  supplies  she  would  disclose  her- 
self on  her  return  through  the  strains  of  a  favorite  song  :  — 

Dark  and  thorny  is  de  pathway, 
Where  de  pilgrim  makes  his  ways ; 

But  beyond  dis  vale  of  sorrow, 
Lie  de  fields  of  endless  days. 

Sometimes  when  hard  pressed  by  pursuers  she  would  take 
a  train  southward  with  her  companions  ;  she  knew  that  no 
one  would  suspect  fugitives  travelling  in  that  direction. 
Harriet  was  a  well-known  visitor  at  the  offices  of  the  anti- 
slavery  societies  in  Philadelphia  and  New  York,  and  at  first 
she  seems  to  have  been  content  if  her  prot^g^s  arrived  safely 
among  friends  in  either  of  these  cities ;  but  after  she  com- 
prehended the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  she  preferred  to  accom- 
pany them  aU  the  way  to  Canada.  "  I  wouldn't,"  she  said, 
"  trust  Uncle  Sam  wid  my  people  no  longer."  ^  She  knew 
the  need  of  discipline  in  effecting  her  rough,  overland 
marches,  and  she  therefore  required  strict  obedience  of  her 
followers.  The  discouragement  of  an  individual  could  not 
be  permitted  to  endanger  the  liberty  and  safety  of  the  whole 
party;  accordingly  she  sometimes  strengthened  the  fainting 
heart  by  threatening  to  use  her  revolver,  and  declaring, 
"  Dead  niggers  teU  no  tales,  you  go  on  or  die."  She  was 
1  Mrs.  Bradford,  Harriet  the  Moses  of  Her  People,  p.  39. 


not  less  lenient  with  herself.  The  safety  of  her  companions 
was  her  chief  concern ;  she  would  not  allow  her  labors  to  be 
lightened  by  any  course  likely  to  increase  the  chances  of 
their  discovery.  On  one  occasion,  while  leading  a  company, 
she  experienced  a  feeling  that  danger  was  near ;  unhesitat- 
ingly she  decided  to  ford  a  river  near  by,  because  she  must 
do  so  to  be  safe.  Her  followers  were  afraid  to  cross,  but 
Harriet,  despite  the  severity  of  the  weather  (the  month  was 
March),  and  her  ignorance  of  the  depth  of  the  stream, 
walked  resolutely  into  the  water  and  led  the  way  to  the  op- 
posite shore.  It  was  found  that  oiificers  were  lying  in  wait 
for  the  party  on  the  route  first  intended. 

Like  many  of  her  race  Harriet  was  a  thorough-going 
mystic.  The  Quaker,  Thomas  Garrett,  said  of  her :  "... 
I  never  met  with  any  person,  of  any  color,  who  had  more 
confidence  in  the  voice  of  God,  as  spoken  to  her  soul.  She 
has  frequently  told  me  that  she  talked  with  God,  and  he 
talked  with  her,  every  day  of  her  life,  and  she  has  declared  to 
me  that  she  felt  no  more  fear  of  being  arrested  by  her  former 
master,  or  any  other  person,  when  in  his  immediate  neighbor- 
hood, than  she  did  in  the  State  of  New  York,  or  Canada,  for 
she  said  she  never  ventured  only  where  God  sent  her.  Her 
faith  in  the  Supreme  Power  truly  was  great."  ^  This  faith 
never  deserted  her  in  her  times  of  peril.  She  explained  her 
many  deliverances  as  Harriet  Beecher  Stowe  accounted  for 
the  power  and  effect  of  Uncle  TorrCs  Cabin.  She  insisted  it 
was  all  God's  doing.  "  Jes  so  long  as  he  wanted  to  use  me," 
said  Mrs.  Tubman,  "  he  would  take  keer  of  me,  an'  when  he 
didn't  want  me  no  longer,  I  was  ready  to  go.  I  always  tole 
him,  I'm  gwine  to  hole  stiddy  on  to  you,  an'  you've  got  to 
see  me  trou."  ^ 

In  1857,  Mrs.  Tubman  made  what  has  been  called  her 
most  venturesome  journey.  She  had  brought  several  of  her 
brothers  and  sisters  from  slavery,  but  had  not  hit  upon  a 
method  to  release  her  aged  parents.  The  chief  difficulty  lay 
in  the  fact  that  they  were  unable  to  walk  long  distances.  At 
length  she  devised  a  plan  and  carried  it  through.     A  home- 

1  Mrs.  Bradford,  Harriet  the  Moses  of  Her  People,  pp.  83,  84. 

2  lUci.,  p.  61, 


made  conveyance  was  patched  together,  and  an  old  horse 
brought  into  use.  Mr.  Garrett  describes  the  vehicle  as  con- 
sisting of  a  pair  of  old  chaise-wheels,  with  a  board  on  the 
axle  to  sit  on  and  another  board  swinging  by  ropes  from  the 
axle  on  which  to  rest  their  feet.  This  rude  contrivance 
Harriet  used  in  conveying  her  parents  to  the  railroad,  where 
they  were  put  aboard  the  cars  for  Wilmington  ;  and  she  fol- 
lowed them  in  her  novel  vehicle.  At  Wilmington,  Friend 
Garrett  was  sought  out  by  the  bold  abductor,  and  he  furnished 
her  with  money  to  take  all  of  them  to  Canada.  He  after- 
wards sold  their  horse  and  sent  them  the  money.  Harriet 
and  her  family  did  not  long  remain  in  Canada ;  Auburn, 
New  York,  was  deemed  a  preferable  place  ;  and  here  a  small 
property  was  bought  on  easy  terms  of  Governor  Seward,  to 
provide  a  home  for  the  enfranchised  mother  and  father. 

Before  Harriet  had  finished  paying  for  her  bit  of  real  es- 
tate, the  Civil  War  broke  out.  Governor  Andrew  of  Massa- 
chusetts, appreciating  the  sagacity,  bravery  and  kindliness  of 
the  woman,  soon  summoned  her  to  go  into  the  South  to  serve 
as  a  scout,  and  when  necessary  as  a  hospital  nurse.  That  her 
services  were  valuable  was  the  testimony  of  officers  under 
whom  she  served;  thus  General  Rufus  Saxton  wrote  in 
March,  1868 :  "  I  can  bear  witness  to  the  value  of  her  services 
in  South  Carolina  and  Florida.  She  was  employed  in  the 
hospitals  and  as  a  spy.  She  made  many  a  raid  inside  the 
enemies'  hues,  displaying  remarkable  courage,  zeal  and 
fidelity."  i 

At  the  conclusion  of  the  great  struggle  Harriet  returned 
to  Auburn,  where  she  has  lived  ever  since.  Her  devotion  to 
her  people  has  never  ceased.  Although  she  is  very  poor  and 
is  subject  to  the  infirmities  of  old  age,  infirmities  increased  in 
her  case  by  the  effects  of  iU  treatment  received  in  slavery, 
she  has  managed  to  transform  her  house  into  a  hospital, 
where  she  provides  and  cares  for  some  of  the  helpless  and 
deserving  of  her  own  race.^ 

1  Mrs.  Bradford,  Sarriet  the  Moses  of  Her  People,  Appendix,  p.  142. 

^Lillie  B.  C.  "Wyman,  in  the  New  England  Magazine,  March,  1876, 
pp.  117,  118.  Conversation  with  Harriet  Tubman,  Cambridge,  Mass.,  April 
8,  1897. 



The  passengers  of  the  Underground  Railroad  had  but  one 
real  refuge,  one  region  alone  within  whose  bounds  they  could 
know  they  were  safe  from  reenslavement ;  that  region  was 
Canada.  The  position  of  Canada  on  the  slavery  question  was 
peculiar,  for  the  imperial  act  abolishing  slavery  throughout 
the  colonies  of  England  was  not  passed  until  1833 ;  and, 
legally,  if  not  actually,  slavery  existed  in  Canada  until  that 
year.  The  importation  of  slaves  into  this  northern  country 
had  been  tolerated  by  the  French,  and  later,  under  an  act 
passed  in  1790,  had  been  encouraged  by  the  English.  It  is  a 
singular  fact  that  while  this  measure  was  in  force  slaves 
escaped  from  their  Canadian  masters  to  the  United  States, 
where  they  found  freedom.^  Before  the  separation  of  the 
Upper  and  Lower  Provinces  in  1791,  slavery  had  spread 
westward  into  Upper  Canada,  and  a  few  hundred  negroes  and 
some  Pawnee  Indians  were  to  be  found  in  bondage  through 
the  small  scattered  settlements  of  the  Niagara,  Home  and 
Western  districts. 

The  Province  of  Upper  Canada  took  the  initiative  in  the 
restriction  of  slavery.  In  the  year  1793,  in  which  Congress 
provided  for  the  rendition  by  the  Northern  states  of  fugitives 
from  labor,  the  first  parliament  of  Upper  Canada  enacted  a 

1  "A  case  of  this  kind,"  says  Dr.  S.  G.  Howe,  "was  related  to  us  by 
Mrs.  Amy  Martin.  Slie  says :  "  My  father's  name  was  James  Ford.  .  .  . 
He  .  .  .  would  he  over  one  hundred  years  old,  if  he  were  now  living.  .  .  . 
He  was  held  here  (in  Canada)  by  the  Indians  as  a  slave,  and  sold,  I  think 
he  said,  to  a  British  officer,  who  was  a  very  cruel  master,  and  he  escaped 
from  him,  and  came  to  Ohio,  ...  to  Cleveland,  I  believe,  first,  and  made 
his  way  from  there  to  Erie  (Pa.),  where  he  settled.  .  .  .  When  we  were  in 
Erie,  we  moved  a  little  way  out  of  the  village,  and  our  house  was  ...  a 
station  of  the  U.  G.  R.  R."  The  Refugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West, 
by  S.  6.  Howe,  1864,  pp.  8,  9. 




(From  a  recent  photograph.) 


law  against  the  importation  of  slaves,  and  incorporated  in  it 
a  clause  to  the  effect  that  children  of  slaves  then  held  were 
to  become  free  at  the  age  of  twenty-five  years.^  Nevertheless, 
judicial  rather  than  legislative  action  terminated  slavery  in 
Lower  Canada,  for  a  series  of  three  fugitive  slave  cases  oc- 
curred between  the  first  day  of  February,  1798,  and  the  last 
day  of  February,  1800.  The  third  of  these  suits,  known  as 
the  Robin  case,  was  tried  before  the  full  Court  of  King's 
Bench,  and  the  court  ordered  the  discharge  of  the  fugitive 
from  his  confinement.  Perhaps  the  correctness  of  the  de- 
cisions rendered  in  these  cases  may  be  questioned ;  but  it  is 
noteworthy  that  the  provincial  legislature  would  not  cross 
them,  and  it  may  therefore  be  asserted  that  slavery  really 
ceased  in  Lower  Canada  after  the  decision  of  the  Robin  case, 
February  18,  1800.^ 

The  seaboard  provinces  were  but  little  infected  by  slavery. 
Nova  Scotia,  to  which  probably  more  than  to  any  other  of  these, 
refugees  from  Southern  bondage  fled,  had  by  reason  of  natural 
causes,  lost  nearly,  if  not  quite  all  traces  of  slavery  by  the 
beginning  of  our  century.  The  experience  of  the  eighteenth 
century  had  been  sufficient  to  reform  public  opinion  in 
Canada  on  the  question  of  slavery,  and  to  show  that  the 
climate  of  the  provinces  was  a  permanent  barrier  to  the 
profitable  employment  of  slave  labor. 

During  the  period  in  which  Canada  was  thus  freeing  her- 
seK  from  the  last  vestiges  of  the  evil,  slaves  who  had  escaped 
from  Southern  masters  were  beginning  to  appeal  for  protection 
to  anti-slavery  people  in  the  Northern  states.^  The  arrests  of 
refugees  from  bondage,  and  the  cases  of  kidnapping  of  free 
negroes,  which  were  not  infrequent  in  the  North,  strength- 
ened the  appeals  of  the  hunted  suppliants.  Under  these 
circumstances,  it  was  natural  that  there  should  have  arisen 
early  in  the  present  century  the  beginnings  of  a  movement 
on  the  northern  border  of  the  United  States  for  the  purpose 
of  helping  fugitives  to  Canadian  soil.* 

1  Act  of  30th  Geo.  m. 

2  See  the  article  entitled  "Slavery  in  Canada,"  by  J.  C.  Hamilton,  LL.B., 
in  the  Magazine  of  American  History,  Vol.  XXV,  pp.  233-236. 

'  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  20. 

*  Ibid.,  p.  60  ;  K.  C.  Smedley,  Underground  Eailroad,  p.  26. 


Upon  the  questions  how  and  when  this  system  arose,  we 
have  both  unofficial  and  official  testimony.  Dr.  Samuel  G. 
Howe  learned  upon  careful  investigation,  in  1863,  that  the 
early  abolition  of  slavery  in  Canada  did  not  affect  slavery  in 
the  United  States  for  several  years.  "  Now  and  then  a  slave 
was  intelligent  and  bold  enough,"  he  states,  "to  cross  the 
vast  forest  between  the  Ohio  and  the  Lakes,  and  find  a  refuge 
beyond  them.  Such  cases  were  at  first  very  rare,  and  know- 
ledge of  them  was  confined  to  few;  but  they  increased  early 
in  this  century ;  and  the  rumor  gradually  spread  among  the 
slaves  of  the  Southern  states,  that  there  was,  far  away  under 
the  north  star,  a  land  where  the  flag  of  the  Union  did  not 
float ;  where  the  law  declared  all  men  free  and  equal ;  where 
the  people  respected  the  law,  and  the  government,  if  need  be, 
enforced  it.  .  .  .  Some,  not  content  with  personal  freedom  and 
happiness,  went  secretly  back  to  their  old  homes,  and  brought 
away  their  wives  and  children  at  much  peril  and  cost.  The 
rumor  widened ;  the  fugitives  so  increased,  that  a  secret 
pathway,  since  called  the  Underground  Railroad,  was  soon 
formed,  which  ran  by  the  huts  of  the  blacks  in  the  slave 
states,  and  the  houses  of  good  Samaritans  in  the  free  states. 
.  .  .  Hundreds  trod  this  path  every  year,  but  they  did  not 
attract  much  public  notice."  ^  Before  the  year  1817  it  is 
said  that  a  single  little  group  of  abolitionists  in  southern 
Ohio  had  forwarded  to  Canada  by  this  secret  path  more  than 
a  thousand  fugitive  slaves.^  The  truth  of  this  account  is 
confirmed  by  the  diplomatic  negotiations  of  1826  relating  to 
this  subject.  Mr.  Clay,  then  Secretary  of  State,  declared  the 
escape  of  slaves  to  British  territory  to  be  a  "  growing  evil " ; 
and  in  1828  he  again  described  it  as  still  "growing,"  and 
added  that  it  was  well  calculated  to  disturb  the  peaceful 
relations  existing  between  the  United  States  and  the  adjacent 
British  provinces.  England,  however,  steadfastly  refused  to 
accept  Mr.  Clay's  proposed  stipulation  for  extradition,  on  the 
ground  that  the  British  government  could  not,  "  with  respect 
to  the  British  possessions  where  slavery  is  not  admitted,  de- 

1  S.  G.  Howe,  The  Eefugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  11,  12. 

2  William  Birney,  James  G.  Birney  and  His  Times,  p.  435. 


part  from  the  principle  recognized  by  the  British  courts  that 
every  man  is  free  who  reaches  British  ground."  ^ 

During  the  decade  between  1828  and  1838  many  persons 
throughout  the  Northern  states,  as  far  west  as  Iowa,  had 
cooperated  in  forming  new  lines  of  Underground  Railroad 
with  termini  at  various  points  along  the  Canadian  frontier. 
A  resolution  submitted  to  Congress  in  December,  1838,  was 
aimed  at  these  persons,  by  calling  for  a  bill  providing  for  the 
punishment,  in  the  courts  of  the  United  States,  of  all  persons 
guilty  of  aiding  fugitive  slaves  to  escape,  or  of  enticing  them 
from  their  owners.^  Though  this  resolution  came  to  nought, 
the  need  of  it  may  have  been  demonstrated  to  the  minds  of 
Southern  men  by  the  fact  that  several  companies  of  runaway 
slaves  were  organized,  and  took  part  in  the  Patriot  War  of 
this  year  in  defence  of  Canadian  territory  against  the  attack 
of  two  or  three  hundi'ed  armed  men  from  the  State  of  New 
York.  3 

Each  succeeding  year  witnessed  the  influx  into  Canada  of 
a  larger  number  of  colored  emigrants  from  the  South.  At 
length,  in  1850,  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  called  forth  such 
opposition  in  the  North  that  the  Underground  Railroad 
became  more  efficient  than  ever.  The  secretary  of  the 
Massachusetts  Anti-Slavery  Society  wrote  in  1851  that, 
"notwithstanding  the  stringent  provisions  of  the  Fugitive 
Bill,  and  the  confidence  which  was  felt  in  it  as  a  certain  cure 
for  escape,  we  are  happy  to  know  that  the  evasion  of  slaves 
was  never  greater  than  at  this  moment.  All  abolitionists,  at 
any  of  the  prominent  points  of  the  country,  know  that  appli- 
cations for  assistance  were  never  more  frequent."  *  This 
statement  is  substantiated  by  the  testimony  of  many  persons 
who  did  underground  service  in  the  North. 

1  Mr.  Gallatin  to  Mr.  Clay,  Sept.  26,  1827,  Mies'  Eegister,  p.  290. 

2  Congressional  Globe,  Twenty-fifth  Congress,  Third  Session,  p.  34. 

'  The  Patriot  War  defeated  a  foolhardy  attempt  to  induce  the  Province  of 
Upper  Canada  to  proclaim  its  independence.  The  refugees  were  by  no 
means  willing  to  see  a  movement  begun,  the  success  of  which  might  "break 
the  only  arm  interposed  for  their  security."  J.  W.  Loguen  as  a  Slave  and 
as  a  Freeman,  p.  344. 

*  Nineteenth  Annual  Report  of  the  Massachusetts  Anti-Slavery  Society, 
January,  1851,  p.  67. 


From  the  other  end  of  the  line,  the  Canadian  terminus, 
we  have  abundant  evidence  of  the  lively  traffic  both  before 
and  after  the  new  act.  Besides  the  later  investigations  of 
Dr.  Howe  we  have  the  statement  of  a  contemporary,  still 
living.  Anthony  Bingey,  of  Windsor,  Ontario,  aided  the  Rev. 
Hiram  Wilson  and  the  Rev.  Isaac  J.  Rice,  two  graduates  of 
Hamilton  College,  in  the  conduct  of  a  mission  for  refugees. 
Mr.  Bingey  first  settled  at  Amherstburg,  at  the  mouth  of  the 
Detroit  River,  where  he  kept  a  receiving  station  for  fugitives, 
was  in  an  excellent  place  for  observation,  and  was  allied 
with  trained  men,  who  gave  themselves,  in  the  missionary 
spirit,  to  the  cause  of  the  fugitive  slave  in  Canada.  When 
Mr.  Bingey  first  went  to  Amherstburg,  in  1845,  it  was  a  rare 
occurrence  to  see  as  many  as  fifteen  fugitives  arrive  in  a 
single  company.  In  the  course  of  time  runaways  began  to 
disembark  from  the  ferries  and  lake  boats  in  larger  numbers, 
a  day's  tale  often  running  as  high  as  thirty.  Through  the 
period  of  the  Mexican  War,  and  down  to  the  beginning  of 
Fillmore's  administration,  many  of  the  fugitives  from  the 
South  had  settled  in  the  States,  but  after  1850  many,  fearing 
recapture,  journeyed  in  haste  to  Canada,  greatly  increasing 
the  number  daily  arriving  there. -^  That  there  was  no  ten- 
dency towards  a  decline  in  the  movement  is  suggested  by 
two  items  appearing  in  the  Independent  during  the  year 
1855.  According  to  the  first  of  these  (quoted  from  the 
Intelligencer  of  St.  Louis,  Missouri) :  "  The  evil  (of  running 
off  slaves)  has  got  to  be  an  immense  one,  and  is  daily  becom- 
ing more  aggravated.  It  threatens  to  subvert  the  institution 
of  slavery  in  this  state  entirely,  and  unless  effectually  checked 
it  will  certainly  do  so.  There  is  no  doubt  that  ten  slaves  are 
now  stolen  from  Missouri  to  every  one  that  was  '  spirited '  off 
before  the  Douglas  bill."  ^  It  is  significant  that  the  ardent 
abolitionists  of  Iowa  and  northwestern   Illinois  were  vig- 

1  Interview  with  Elder  Anthony  Bingey,  Windsor,  Ontario,  July  31,  1895. 
On  this  point  Dr.  S.  G.  Howe  says :  "  Of  course  it  [the  Fugitive  Slave  Law] 
gave  gi-eat  increase  to  the  emigration,  and  free  born  blacks  fled  with  the 
slaves  from  a  land  in  which  their  birthright  of  freedom  was  no  longer 
secure."    Mefugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  p.  16. 

2  Independent,  Jan.  18,  1856. 


orously  engaged  in  Underground  Railroad  work  at  this  time. 
The  other  item  declared  that  the  number  of  fugitives  trans- 
ported by  the  "  Ohio  Underground  Line "  was  twenty-five 
per  cent  greater  than  in  any  previous  year ;  "  indeed,  many 
masters  have  brought  their  hands  from  the  Kanawha  (West 
Virginia),  not  being  willing  to  risk  them  there."  ^ 

That  portion  of  Canada  most  easily  reached  by  fugitives 
was  the  lake-bound  region  lying  between  New  York  on  the 
east  and  Michigan  on- the  west,  and  presenting  a  long  and 
inviting  coast-line  to  northern  Ohio,  northwestern  Pennsyl- 
vania and  western  New  York.  Lower  Canada  was  often 
reached  through  the  New  England  states  and  by  way  of  the 
coast-line  routes.  The  fugitives  slaves  entering  Canada 
were  principally  from  the  border  slave  states,  Missouri, 
Kentucky,  Virginia,  Maryland  and  Delaware.  Some,  how- 
ever, favored  by  rare  good  fortune  and  possessed  of  more 
than  ordinary  sagacity  or  aided  by  some  venturesome  friend, 
had  made  their  way  from  the  far  South,  from  the  Carolinas, 
Alabama,  Georgia  and  Tennessee,  even  from  Louisiana. 

The  fugitives  who  reached  Canada  do  not  seem  to  have 
been  notable ;  on  the  whole  they  were  a  representative  body 
of  the  slave-class.  An  observer  on  a  Southern  plantation 
could  hardly  have  selected  out  would-be  fugitives,  as  being 
superior  to  their  fellows.  If  he  had  questioned  them  all 
about  their  desire  for  liberty  he  would  have  found  habitual 
runaways  agreeing  with  their  fellows  that  they  were  content 
with  their  present  lot.  The  average  slave  was  shrewd  enough 
under  ordinary  circumstances  to  tell  what  he  thought  least 
likely  to  arouse  suspicion.  That  such  discretion  did  not 
signify  lack  of  desire  for  freedom  is  shown  not  only  by  the 
numerous  escapes,  but  by  the  narratives  of  fugitives.  Said 
Leonard  Harrod:  "Many  a  time  my  master  has  told  me 
things  to  try  me ;  among  others  he  said  he  thought  of  mov- 
ing up  to  Cincinnati,  and  asked  me  if  I  did  not  want  to  go. 
I  would  tell  him,  '  No !  I  don't  want  to  go  to  none  of  your 
free  countries ! '  Then  he'd  laugh,  but  I  did  want  to  come 
—  surely  I  did.     A  colored  man  tells  the  truth  here,  —  there 

1  Independent,  April  5,  1855 ;  see  also  "Von  Hoist's  Constitutional  and 
Political  History  of  the  United  States,  Vol.  V,  p.  63,  note. 


he  is  afraid  to."  ^  "  I  have  known  slaves  to  be  hungry,"  said 
David  West,  "  but  when  their  master  asked  them  if  they  had 
enough,  they  would  through  fear  say,  'Yes.'  So  if  asked 
if  they  wish  to  be  free,  they  will  say  '  No.'  I  knew  a  case 
where  there  was  a  division  of  between  fifty  and  sixty  slaves 
among  heirs,  one  of  whom  intended  to  set  free  her  part.  So 
wishing  to  consult  them  she  asked  of  such  and  such  ones 
if  they  would  like  to  be  free,  and  they  all  said  'No,'  for 
if  they  had  said  yes,  and  had  then  fallen  to  the  other  heirs, 
they  would  be  sold,  —  and  so  they  said,  '  No,'  against  their 
own  consciences." 2  "From  the  time  I  was  a  little  boy  it 
always  ground  my  feelings  to  know  that  I  had  to  work  for 
another  man,"  said  Edward  Walker,  of  Windsor,  Ontario.^ 
When  asked  to  help  hunt  two  slave-women,  Henry  Steven- 
son, a  slave  in  Odrain  County,  Missouri,  at  first  declined, 
knowing  that  his  efforts  to  find  them  would  bring  upon 
him  the  wrath  of  the  other  slaves.  "I  wouldn't  go,"  he 
related;  "the  colored  folks  would  'a'  killed  me."  In  his 
refusal  he  was  supported  by  a  white  man,  who  had  the 
wisdom  to  observe  that  "'Twas  a  bad  policy  to  send  a 
nigger  to  hunt  a  nigger."  Nevertheless,  Stevenson's  trust- 
worthiness had  been  so  often  tested  that  he  was  taken 
along  to  help  prosecute  the  search,  and  even  accompanied 
the  party  of  pursuers  to  Chicago,  where  he  disappeared  by 
the  aid  of  abolitionists  and  was  afterward  heard  of  in  Wind- 
sor, Ontario.*  Elder  Anthony  Bingey,  of  the  same  place, 
said,  "I  never  saw  the  day  since  I  knew  anything  that  I 
didn't  want  to  be  free.  Both  Bucknel  and  Taylor  [his 
successive  masters]  liked  to  see  their  slaves  happy  and  well 
treated,  but  I  always  wanted  to  be  free."  ^ 

The  manifestations  of  delight  by  fugitives  when  landed 
on  the  Canada  shore  is  another  part  of  the  evidence  of  the 
sincerity  of  their  aspirations  for  freedom.    Captain  Chapman, 

^  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  1856,  p.  340. 
=  Ibid.,  p.  91. 

'  Detroit  Sunday  News  Tribune,  quoted  by  the  Louisville  Journal,  Aug. 
12, 1894. 

*  Conversation  with  Henry  Stevenson,  Windsor,  Ont.,  July,  1895. 

*  Conversation  with  Elder  Anthony  Bingey,  Windsor,  Ont.,  July  31,1895. 


the  commander  of  a  vessel  on  Lake  Erie  in  1860,  was  re- 
quested by  two  9,cquaintances  at  Cleveland  to  put  ashore 
on  the  Canada  side  two  persons,  who  were,  of  course,  fugi- 
tives, and  he  gives  the  following  account  of  the  landing: 
"  While  they  were  on  my  vessel  I  felt  little  interest  in  them, 
and  had  no  idea  that  the  love  of  liberty  as  a  part  of  man's 
nature  was  in  the  least  possible  degree  felt  or  understood  by 
them.  Before  entering  Buffalo  harbor,  I  ran  in  near  the 
Canada  shore,  manned  a  boat,  and  landed  them  on  the  beach. 
.  .  .  They  said,  '  Is  this  Canada  ? '  I  said,  '  Yes,  there  are 
no  slaves  in  this  country ' ;  then  I  witnessed  a  scene  I  shall 
never  forget.  They  seemed  to  be  transformed ;  a  new  light 
shone  in  their  eyes,  their  tongues  were  loosed,  they  laughed 
and  cried,  prayed  and  sang  praises,  fell  upon  the  ground  and 
kissed  it,  hugged  and  kissed  each  other,  crying,  'Bress  de 
Lord !     Oh !  I'se  free  before  I  die  ! '"  i 

The  state  of  ignorance  in  which  the  slave  population  of 
the  South  was  largely  kept  must  be  regarded  as  the  admis- 
sion by  the  master  class  that  their  slaves  were  likely  to  seize 
the  boon  of  freedom,  unless  denied  the  encouragement 
towards  self-emancipation  that  knowledge  would  surely 
afford.  The  fables  about  Canada  brought  to  the  North  by 
runaways  well  illustrate  both  the  ignorance  of  the  slave  and 
the  apprehensions  of  his  owner.  William  Johnson,  who  fled 
from  Hopkins  County,  Virginia,  had  been  told  that  the 
Detroit  River  was  over  three  thousand  miles  wide,  and  a 
ship  starting  out  in  the  night  would  find  herself  in  the 
morning  "right  whar  she  started  from."  In  the  light  of 
his  later  experience  Johnson  says,  "  We  knowed  jess  what 
dey  tole  us  and  no  more."  ^  Deacon  Allen  Sidney,  an  en- 
gineer on  his  master's  boat,  which  touched  at  Cincinnati,  had 
a  poor  opinion  of  Canada  because  he  had  heard  that  "  nothin' 
but  black-eyed  peas  could  be  raised  there."  ^  John  Evans, 
who  travelled  through  the  Northern  country,  and  even  in 
Canada,  with  his  Kentucky  master,  was  insured  against  the 

1  E.  M.  Pettit,  Sketches  in  the  Sistory  of  the  Underground  Bailroad, 
pp.  66,  67.     See  also  Chapter  I,  p.  14,  and  Chapter  VI,  p.  178. 

2  Conversation  with  William  Johnson,  at  Windsor,  Ont.,  July  31,  1895. 
*  Conversation  with  Allen  Sidney,  Windsor,  Ont. 


temptation  to  seize  his  liberty  by  the  warning  to  let  no 
"  British  nigger"  get  near  him  lest  he  should  be  slain  "jess 
like  on  de  battle-field."  ^  John  Reed  heard  the  white  people 
in  Memphis,  Tennessee,  talk  much  of  Canada,  but  he  adds 
"  they'd  put  some  extract  onto  it  to  keep  us  from  comin'."  ^ 

Although  many  disparaging  things  said  about  Canada  at 
the  South  were  without  the  shadow  of  verity,  there  were 
still  hardships  enough  to  be  met  by  those  who  settled  there. 
The  provinces  constituted  for  them  a  strange  country.  Its 
climate,  raw,  open  and  variable,  and  at  certain  periods  of  the 
year  severe,  increased  the  sufferings  of  a  people  already  des- 
titute. The  condition  in  which  many  of  them  arrived  be- 
yond the  borders,  especially  those  who  migrated  before  the 
forties,  is  vividly  told  by  J.  W.  Loguen  in  his  account  of  his 
first  arrival  at  Hamiltqn,  Canada  West,  in  1835.  Writing  to 
his  friend,  Frederick  Douglass,  under  date  of  May  8,  1856, 
he  says :  "  Twenty -one  years  ago  —  I  stood  on  this  spot, 
penniless,  ragged,  lonely,  homeless,  helpless,  hungry  and 
forlorn.  .  .  .  Hamilton  was  a  cold  wilderness  for  the  fugi- 
tive when  I  came  there."  ^  The  experience  of  Loguen  cor- 
roborates what  Josiah  Henson  said  of  the  general  condition 
of  the  fugitives  as  he  saw  them  in  1830  :  "  At  that  time  they 
were  scattered  in  all  directions  and  for  the  most  part  miser- 
ably poor,  subsisting  not  unfrequently  on  the  roots  and 
herbs  of  the  fields.  ...  In  1830  there  were  no  schools 
among  them  and  no  churches,  only  occasionally  preaching."  * 

The  whole  previous  experience  of  these  pioneers  was  a 
block  to  their  making  a  vigorous  initiative  in  their  own  be- 
half. Extreme  poverty,  ignorance  and  subjection  were  their 
inheritance.  Their  new  start  in  life  was  made  with  a 
wretched  prospect,  and  it  would  be  difficult  to  imagine  a 
free  lot  more  discouraging  and  hopeless.  Yet  it  was  bright- 
ened much  by  the  compassionate  interest  of  the  Canadian 
people,  who  were  so  tolerant  as  to  admit  them  to  a  share  in 

*  Conversation  with  John  Evans,  Windsor,  Ont.,  Aug.  2,  1895. 
"  Conversation  with  John  Reed,  Windsor,  Ont. 

*  The  Bev.  J.  W.  Loguen  as  a  Slave  and  as  a  Freeman,  1859,  told  by 
himself  ;  chap,  xxiv,  pp.  338,  340. 

*  Father  Benson's  Story  of  His  Own  Life,  1858,  p.  209. 


the  equal  rights  that  could  at  that  time  be  found  in  Amer- 
ica only  in  the  territory  of  a  monarchical  government.  By 
the  year  1838  the  fugitive  host  of  Canada  West  began  to 
profit  by  organized  efforts  in  its  behalf.  A  mission  of  Upper 
Canada  was  established.  It  was  described  as  including  "  the 
colored  people  who  have  emigrated  from  the  United  States 
and  settled  in  various  parts  of  Upper  Canada  to  enjoy  the 
inalienable  rights  of  freedom."  ^  During  the  winter  of  1838- 
1839,  this  enterprise  conducted  four  schools,  while  the  Rev. 
Hiram  Wilson,  who  seems  to  have  been  acting  under  other 
auspices,  was  supervising  during  the  same  year  a  number  of 
other  schools  in  the  province.^ 

From  this  time  on  much  was  done  in  Canada  to  help  the 
ransomed  slave  meet  his  new  conditions.  It  was  not  long 
before  the  benevolent  interest  of  friends  from  the  Northern 
states  followed  the  refugees  to  their  very  settlements  as  it 
had  succored  them  on  their  way  through  the  free  states.  In 
1844  Levi  Coffin  and  William  Beard  made  a  tour  of  inspec- 
tion in  Canada  West.  This  was  the  first  of  several  trips 
made  by  these  two  Quakers  "  to  look  after  the  welfare  of  the 
fugitives  "  ^  in  that  region.  The  Rev.  Samuel  J.  May  made 
two  such  trips,  "  the  first  time  to  Toronto  and  its  neighbor- 
hood, the  second  time  to  that  part  of  Canada  which  lies  be- 
tween Lake  Erie  and  Lake  Huron."  *  John  Brown  did  not 
fail  to  keep  himself  informed  by  personal  visits  how  the 
fugitives  were  faring  there.®  Men  less  prominent  but  not 
less  interested  among  underground  magnates  were  di-awn  to 
see  how  their  former  prot^g^s  were  prospering ;  such  were 
Abram  AUen,  a  Hicksite  Friend  of  Clinton  County,  Ohio, 
and  Reuben  Goens,  a  South  Carolinian  by  birth,  who  be- 
came an  enthusiastic  coworker  with  the  Quakers  at  Fountain 
City,  Indiana,  in  aiding  slaves  to  the  Dominion. 

These  efforts  were  helpful  to  multitudes  of  negroes.  Some 
insight  into  the  work  that  was  being  accomplished  is  afforded 

1  Mission  of  Upper  Canada,  Vol.  I,  No.  17,  Wed.,  July  31,  1839. 
3  Ibid. 

*  Reminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin,  p.  253. 

♦  May,  Becollections  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  p.  303. 
5  Hinton,  John  Brown  and  His  Men,  p.  175. 


by  Levi  Coffin,  who  gives  a  valuable  account  of  his  Canadian 
trip,  September  to  November,  1844.  Among  the  first  places 
he  visited  was  Amherstburg,  more  commonly  known  at  that 
time  by  the  name  of  Fort  Maiden :  "  While  at  this  place,  we 
made  our  headquarters  at  Isaac  J.  Rice's  missionary  buildings, 
where  he  had  a  large  school  for  colored  children.  He  had 
labored  here  among  the  colored  people,  mostly  fugitives,  for 
six  years.  He  was  a  devoted,  self-denying  worker,  had 
received  very  little  pecuniary  help,  and  had  suffered  many 
privations.  He  was  well  situated  in  Ohio,  as  pastor  of  a 
Presbyterian  church,  and  had  fine  prospects  before  him,  but 
believed  that  the  Lord  called  him  to  this  field  of  missionary 
labor  among  the  fugitive  slaves  who  came  here  by  hundreds 
and  by  thousands,  poor,  destitute,  ignorant,  suffering  from  all 
the  evil  influences  of  slavery.  We  entered  into  deep  sym- 
pathy with  him  in  his  labors,  realizing  the  great  need  there 
was  here  for  just  such  an  institution  as  he  had  established. 
He  had  sheltered  at  this  missionary  home  many  hundreds  of 
fugitives  till  other  homes  for  them  could  be  found.  This  was 
the  great  landing-point,  the  principal  terminus  of  the  Under- 
ground Railroad  of  the  West."  ^  Later  Mr.  Coffin  and  his 
companion  "visited  the  institution  under  the  care  of  Hiram 
Wilson,  called  the  British  and  American  Manual  Labor  In- 
stitute for  colored  children."  ^  "  The  school  was  then,"  he 
reports,  "in  a  prosperous  condition."  Mr.  Coffin  continues: 
"  From  this  place  we  proceeded  up  the  river  Thames  to  Lon- 
don, visiting  the  different  settlements  of  colored  people  on 
our  way,  and  then  went  to  the  Wilberforce  Colony.  .  .  . 
I  often  met  fugitives  who  had  been  at  my  house  ten  or  fifteen 
years  before,  so  long  ago  that  I  had  forgotten  them,  and 
could  recall  no  recollection  of  them  until  they  mentioned 
some  circumstance  that  brought  them  to  mind.  Some  of  them 
were  well  situated,  owned  good  farms,  and  were  perhaps  worth 
more  than  their  former  masters.  .  .  .  We  found  many  of 
the  fugitives  more  comfortably  situated  than  we  expected,  but 
there  was  much  destitution  and  suffering  among  those  who 
had  recently  come  in.  Many  fugitives  arrived  weary  and 
footsore,  with  their  clothing  in  rags,  having  been  torn  by 
1  Coffin,  Seminiscences,  pp.  249,  250.  2  H)i^_^  p.  251. 


briers  and  bitten  by  dogs  on  their  way,  and  when  the  precious 
boon  of  freedom  was  obtained,  they  found  themselves  pos- 
sessed of  little  else,  in  a  country  unknown  to  them  and  a 
climate  much  colder  than  that  to  which  they  were  accustomed. 
We  noted  the  cases  and  localities  of  destitution,  and  after 
our  return  home  took  measures  to  collect  and  forward  several 
large  boxes  of  clothing  and  bedding  to  be  distributed  by  re- 
liable agents  to  the  most  needy."  ^ 

The  government  of  Canada  was  not  in  advance  of  the 
public  sentiment  of  the  provinces  when  it  gave  the  incoming 
blacks  considerate  treatment.  It  was  early  a  puzzle  in  Mr. 
Clay's  mind  why  Ontario  and  the  mother  country  should 
yield  unhindered  entrance  to  such  a  class  of  colonists;  his 
opinion  of  the  character  of  the  absconding  slaves  and  of  the 
unadvisability  of  their  being  received  by  Canada  was  ex- 
pressed in  a  despatch  of  1826  to  the  United  States  minister 
at  London :  "  They  are  generally  the  most  worthless  of  their 
class,  and  far,  therefore,  from  being  an  acquisition  which  the 
British  government  can  be  anxious  to  make.  The  sooner,  we 
should  think,  they  are  gotten  rid  of  the  better  for  Canada."  ^ 
But  the  Canadians  did  not  at  any  time  adopt  this  view.  Dr. 
Howe  testified  in  1863  that  "the  refugees  have  always  re- 
ceived .  .  .  from  the  better  class  of  people,  good-will  and 
justice,  and  from  a  few,  active  friendship  and  important 
assistance."  ^  The  attitude  of  the  Canadian  government 
toward  this  class  of  immigrants  was  always  one  of  welcome 
and  protection.  Not  only  was  there  no  obstruction  put  in 
the  way  of  their  settling  in  the  Dominion,  but  rather  there 
was  the  clear  purpose  to  see  them  shielded  from  removal  and 
to  foster  among  them  the  accumulation  of  property. 

In  the  matter  of  the  acquirement  of  land  no  discrimination 
was  made  by  the  Canadian  authorities  against  the  fugitive 
settlers.  On  the  contrary  these  unpromising  purchasers  were 
encouraged  to  take  up  government  land  and  become  tillers  of 
the  soil.  In  1844  Levi  CofBn  found  that  "  Land  had  been 
easily  obtained  and   many  had   availed   themselves  of   this 

1  Coffin,  Eeminiscences,  pp.  252,  283. 

2  mies'  Begister,  Vol.  XSV,  p.  289. 

'  Howe,  Befugees  in  Canada  West,  p.  68. 


advantage  to  secure  comfortable  homesteads.  Government 
land  had  been  divided  up  into  fifty-acre  lots,  which  they 
could  buy  for  two  dollars  an  acre,  and  have  ten  years  in  which 
to  pay  for  it,  and  if  it  was  not  paid  for  at  the  end  of  that 
time  they  did  not  lose  all  the  labor  they  had  bestowed  on  it, 
but  received  a  clear  title  to  the  land  as  soon  as  they  paid  for 
it."  1 

In  1848  or  1849  a  company  was  formed  in  Upper  Canada, 
under  the  name  of  the  Elgin  Association,  for  the  purpose  of 
settling  colored  families  upon  crown  or  clergy  reserve  lands 
to  be  purchased  in  the  township  of  Raleigh.  It  was  intended 
thus  to  supply  the  families  settled  with  stimulus  to  moral 
improvement.^  To  whom  is  to  be  attributed  the  origin  of 
this  enterprise  is  not  altogether  clear ;  one  writer  ascribes  it 
to  the  influence  of  Lord  Elgin,  Governor-General  of  Canada 
from  1849  to  1854,  and  asserts  that  a  tract  of  land  of 
eighteen  thousand  acres  was  allotted  for  a  refugee  settlement 
in  1848;  3  another  says  it  was  first  projected  by  the  Rev. 
William  King,  a  Louisiana  slaveholder,  in  1849.*  Mr.  King's 
own  statement  is  that  a  company  of  fifteen  slaves  he  had  him- 
self emancipated  became  the  nucleus  of  the  settlement  in 
1849;  and  that  under  an  act  of  incorporation  procured  by 
himself  in  1850  an  association  was  formed  to  purchase  nine 
thousand  acres  of  land  and  hold  it  for  fugitive  settlers.* 

The  Canadian  authorities  facilitated  the  efforts  made  by 
the  friends  of  the  fugitives  to  provide  this  class  such  supplies 
as  could  be  gathered  in  various  quarters,  and  they  entered 
into  an  arrangement  with  the  mission-agent,  the  Rev.  Hiram 
Wilson,  to  admit  all  supplies  intended  for  the  refugees  free 
of  customs-duty.  Mr.  E.  Child,  a  mission-teacher,  educated 
at  Oneida  Institute,  New  York,  received  many  boxes  of  such 
goods  at  Toronto  ;  ^  and  at  a  hamlet  called  "  the  Corners,"  a 

1  Levi  CofBn,  Reminiscences,  pp.  252,  253. 

2  Benjamin  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  292. 

°  George  Bryce,  Short  History  of  the  Canadian  People,  p.  403. 

*  Benjamin  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  291. 

^  S.  G.  Howe,  Refugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  107,  108.. 

"  History  of  Knox  County,  Illinois  (published  by  Charles  C.  Chapman 
and  Co.),  p.  203.  Here  it  is  stated :  "  Mr.  Wilson  arranged  with  the  authori- 
ties to  have  all  supplies  for  the  fugitive  slaves  admitted  free  of  customs  duty. 


few  miles  from  Detroit,  a  Mr.  Miller  kept  a  depot  for  "fugi- 
tive goods."  Supplies  were  also  shipped  to  Detroit  direct  for 
transmission  across  tlie  frontier.  ^ 

The  circumstances  attending  the  settlement  of  the  refugees 
from  slavery  in  Canada  were  favorable  to  their  kindly  recep- 
tion by  the  native  peoples.  It  was  generally  known  that  they 
had  suffered  many  hardships  on  their  journey  northward,  and 
that  they  usually  came  with  nought  but  the  unquenchable 
yearning  for  a  liberty  denied  them  by  the  United  States. 
The  movement  to  Canada  had  begun  when  the  inter-lake 
portion  of  Ontario  was  largely  an  unsettled  region;  and 
indeed,  during  the  period  of  the  refugees'  immigration,  much 
of  the  interior  was  in  the  process  of  clearing.  Moreover,  the 
movement  was  one  of  small  beginnings  and  gradual  develop- 
ment. It  brought  into  the  country  what  it  then  needed  — 
agricultural  labor  to  open  up  government  land  and  to  help 
the  native  farmers. 

In  the  elbow  of  land  lying  between  Lake  Ontario  and  Lake 
Erie,  the  fugitives  were  early  received  by  the  Indians  under 
Chief  Brant,  having  possessions  along  the  Grand  River  and 
near  Burlington  Bay.  Finding  hospitality  on  these  estates, 
the  negroes  not  infrequently  adopted  the  customs  and  mode 
of  life  of  their  benefactors,  and  remained  among  them.^ 

In  the  territory  extending  westward  along  the  lake  front 
white  settlers  were  working  their  clearings,  which  were 
beginning  to  take  on  the  aspect  of  cultivated  farms.  But 
farm  hands  were  not  plentiful,  and  the  fugitive  slaves  were 
penniless,  and  eager  to  receive  wages  on  their  own  account. 

Many  were  the  large  ■well-filled  boxes  of  what  was  most  needed  by  the  wan- 
derer taken  from  the  wharf  at  Toronto  during  that  winter  [1841]  by  E.  Child, 
mission-teacher.  He  was  then  a  student  at  Oneida  Institute,  N.Y.,  but  for 
many  years  has  resided  in  Oneida,  this  county.  He  went  into  Canada  for 
the  purpose  of  teaching  the  fugitives." 

'  Conversation  with  Jacob  Cummings,  a  fugitive  from  Tennessee,  now 
living  in  Columbus,  O.  Mr.  Cummings  was  at  one  time  a  collecting  agent 
for  a  settlement  at  Puce,  Ont.  He  told  the  author,  "  WTiile  agent,  I  was 
sent  to  Sandusky.  I  would  collect  goods  for  the  settlement,  and  ship  it  to 
Detroit,  marked  'Fugitive  Goods.'  Brother  Miller,  at  the  Comers,  a  little 
place  about  fifteen  miles  from  Detroit,  would  take  care  of  these,  and  Canada 
wouldn't  charge  any  duty  on  'fugitive  goods.'  " 

2  J.  C.  Hamilton,  Magazine  of  American  History,  Vol.  XXV,  p.  238. 


Mr.  Benjamin  Drew,  who  made  a  tour  of  investigation  among 
these  people  in  1855,  and  wrote  down  the  narratives  of  more 
than  a  hundred  colored  refugees,  gives  testimony  to  show 
that  in  some  quarters  at  least,  as  in  the  vicinity  of  Colchester, 
Dresden  and  Dawn,  the  number  of  laborers  was  not  equal  to 
the  demand,  and  that  the  negroes  readily  found  employment.^ 
It  was  not  to  be  expected  that  the  field-hands  and  house- 
servants  of  the  South  could  work  to  the  best  advantage  in 
their  new  surroundings ;  a  gentleman  of  Windsor  told  Mr. 
Drew  that  immigrants  whose  experience  in  agricultural  pur- 
suits had  been  gained  in  Pennsylvania  and  other  free  states 
were  more  capable  and  reliable  than  those  coming  directly 
to  Canada  from  Southern  bondage.^  But  such  was  the  dis- 
position of  the  white  people  in  different  parts  of  Canada, 
and  such  the  demand  for  laborers  in  this  developing  section, 
that  the  Canada  Anti-Slavery  Society  could  say  of  the 
refugees,  in  its  Second  Report  (1853) :  "  The  true  principle 
is  now  to  assume  that  every  man,  unless  disabled  by  sickness, 
can  support  himself  and  his  family  after  he  has  obtained 
steady  employment.  All  that  able-bodied  men  and  women 
require  is  a  fair  chance,  friendly  advice  and  a  little  encourage- 
ment, perhaps  a  little  assistance  at  first.  Those  who  are  really 
willing  to  work  can  procure  employment  in  a  short  time  after 
their  arrival."  ^ 

The  fact  that  there  were  large  tracts  of  good  land  in  the 
portion  of  Canada  accessible  to  the  fugitive  was  a  fortunate 
circumstance,  for  the  desire  to  possess  and  cultivate  their 
own  land  was  wide-spread  among  the  escaped  slaves.  This 
eagerness  drew  many  of  them  into  the  Canadian  wilderness, 
there  to  cut  out  little  farms  for  themselves,  and  live  the  life 
of  pioneers.  The  extensive  tract  known  as  the  Queen's 
Bush,  lying  southwest  of  Toronto  and  stretching  away  to 
Lake  Huron,  was  early  penetrated  by  refugees.  William 
Jackson,  one  of  the  first  colored  settlers  in  this  region,  says 
that  he  entered  it  in  1846,  when  scarcely  any  one  was  to  be 
found  there,  that  other  fugitive  slaves  soon  followed  in  con- 

1  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  pp.  311,  368. 

^  Ihid.,  p.  322. 

'  Quoted  by  Drew,  p.  326. 



COL.   T.   W.   HIGGIXSON, 

ONE     OF     THE     PRIME     MOVERS     IN     THE 


who  made  a  valuable  report  on  the  life  ol 
fugitive  settlers  in  Canada  in  behalf 
of  the  United  States  Freedman's  In- 
qviiry  Commission  in  1863. 


who  studied  the  condition  of  the  colored 
refugees  in  Canada  in  1855,  and  wrote 
an  interesting  book  on  the  subject. 


siderable  numbers  and  cleared  the  land,  and  that  in  less  than 
two  years  as  many  as  fifty  families  had  located  there.  The 
land  proved  to  be  good,  was  well  timbered  with  hard  wood, 
and  farms  of  from  fifty  to  a  hundred  acres  in  extent  were  soon 
put  in  cultivation.!  In  some  other  parts  of  Canada  the  same 
tendency  to  spread  into  the  outlying  districts  and  secure 
small  holdings  appeared  among  the  colored  people.  Mr.  Peter 
Wright,  the  reeve  of  the  town  of  Colchester,  noted  this  fact, 
and  attributed  the  clearance  of  much  land  for  cultivation  to 
fugitive  slaves.^  That  such  land  did  not  always  remain  in 
the  possession  of  this  class  of  pioneers  was  due  to  their  igno- 
rance of  the  forms  of  conveyancing,  and  doubtless  sometimes 
to  the  sharp  practices  of  unscrupulous  whites.^ 

Encouragement  was  not  lacking  to  induce  refugees  to  take 
up  land ;  several  fugitive  aid  societies  were  organized  for  this 
purpose,  and  procured  tracts  of  land  and  founded  colonies 
upon  them.  The  most  important  of  the  colonies  thus  formed 
were  the  Dawn  Settlement  at  Dresden,  the  Elgin  Settlement 
at  Buxton  and  the  Refugees'  Home  near  Windsor.*  These 
three  communities  deserve  special  consideration,  inasmuch  as 
they  illustrate  an  interesting  movement  in  which  benevolent 
persons  in  Canada,  England  and  the  United  States  cooperated 
to  improve  the  condition  of  the  refugees. 

The  Dawn  Settlement,  the  first  of  the  three  established, 
may  be  said  to  have  had  its  beginning  in  the  organization  of  a 
school  called  the  British  and  A  merican  Institute.^  The  purpose 
to  found  such  a  school  seems  to  have  been  cherished  by  the 
missionary,  the  Rev.  Hiram  Wilson,  and  his  coworker,  Josiah 
Henson,  as  early  as  1838 ;  but  the  plan  was  not  undertaken 
until  1842.^     In  that  year  a  convention  of  colored  persons  was 

1  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  190. 

2  IbU.,  p.  367. 

'  Ibid.,  pp.  367,  369 ;  Austin  Steward,  Twenty-two  Years  a  Slave,  and 
Forty  Years  a  Freeman,  p.  272. 

*  Howe,  Refugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  68,  69. 

*  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  808. 

«  The  Life  of  Josiah  Henson,  formerly  a  Slave,  as  narrated  by  Himself, 
1852,  p.  115.  See  also  Father  Henson's  Story  of  His  Own  Life,  1858,  p.  171. 
Mr.  Drew  ascribes  the  honor  of  the  original  conception  of  this  Institute  to 
the  Rev.  Hiram  Wilson.  (See  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  311.)  Mr. 
Henson,  after  asserting  that  he  and  Mr.  Wilson  called  the  convention  of  1838, 


called  to  decide  upon  the  expenditure  of  some  fifteen  hundred 
dollars  collected  in  England  by  a  Quaker  named  James  C. 
Fuller;  and  they  decided,  under  suggestion,  to  start  "a 
manual-labor  school,  where  children  could  be  taught  those 
elements  of  knowledge  which  are  usually  the  occupations  of 
a  grammar-school;  and  where  the  boys  could  be  taught,  in 
addition,  the  practice  of  some  mechanic  art,  and  the  girls 
could  be  instructed  in  those  domestic  arts  which  are  the 
proper  occupation  and  ornament  of  her  sex."  ^  It  was  decided 
to  locate  the  school  at  Dawn,  and  accordingly  three  hundred 
acres  of  land  were  purchased  there,  upon  which  were  erected 
log  buildings  and  schoolhouses,  and  soon  the  work  of  in- 
struction was  begun.  It  was  "  an  object  from  the  beginning,  of 
those  who  .  .  .  managed  the  affairs  of  the  Institute,  to  make 
it  self-supporting,  by  the  employment  of  the  students,  for  cer- 
tain portions  of  their  time,  on  the  land."  ^  The  advantages 
of  schooling  on  this  basis  attracted  many  refugee  settlers  to 
Dresden  and  Dawn.  The  Institute  also  gave  shelter  to  fugi- 
tive slaves  "  until  they  could  be  placed  out  upon  the  wild 
lands  in  the  neighborhoods  to  earn  their  own  subsistence." 

The  Rev.  Mr.  Wilson  served  the  Institute  during  the  first 
seven  years  of  its  existence,  teaching  its  school,  and  minister- 
ing to  such  refugees  as  came.  The  number  of  "boarding- 
scholars  "  with  which  he  began  was  fourteen,  and  at  that  time 
"there  were  no  more  than  fifty  colored  persons  in  all  the 
vicinity  of  the  tract  purchased."  ^  In  1852  there  were  about 
sixty  pupils  attending  the  school,  and  the  settlers  on  the  land 
of  the  Institute  had  increased  to  five  hundred ;  *  while  other 
colonies  in  the  same  region  had,  collectively,  a  population  of 

continues,  "I  urged  the  appropriation  of  the  money  to  the  establishment  of  a 
manual-labor  school.  .  .  ."  {Father  Henson's  Story  of  His  Own  Life,'p.\QQ.) 
It  appears  that  both  Wilson  and  Henson  were  placed  on  the  committee  on 
site.  As  they  were  friends  and  coworkers,  it  is  safe  to  accord  them  equal 
shares  in  the  undertaking. 

1  Father  Hensori's  Story  of  His  Own  Life,  p.  169. 

2  The  Life  of  Josiah  Henson,  formerly  a  Slave,  as  narrated  by  Himself, 
p.  115. 

8  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  311. 

*  First  Annual  Eeport  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Society  of  Canada,  p.  17.     See 
also  Drew's  North-Side  View,  p.  311. 


between  three  thousand  and  four  thousand  colored  people.^ 
From  what  has  been  said  it  is  easy  to  see  that  the  influence 
of  Dawn  Institute  was  considerable ;  its  managers  were  not 
content  that  it  should  instruct  the  children  of  colored  persons 
only;  they  extended  the  advantages  of  the  school  to  the 
children  of  whites  and  Indians  as  well.  Adult  students  were 
also  admitted,  and  varied  in  number  from  fifty-six  to  one 
hundred  and  sixteen. ^  The  good  results  of  the  policy  thus 
pursued  are  apparent  in  the  character  and  habits  of  the  com- 
munities that  developed  under  the  influence  of  the  Institute. 

Concerning  these  communities  Mr.  Drew  observed :  "  The 
colored  people  in  the  neighborhood  of  Dresden  and  Dawn 
are  generally  prosperous  farmers  —  of  good  morals.  .  .  .  But 
here,  as  among  all  people,  are  a  few  persons  of  doubtful 
character,  who  have  not  been  trained  '  to  look  out  for  a  rainy 
day,'  —  and  when  these  get  a  little  beforehand  they  are  apt  to 
rest  on  their  oars.  .  .  .  Some  of  the  settlers  are  mechanics, 
—  shoemakers,  blacksmiths  and  so  forth.  About  one-third 
of  the  adult  settlers  are  in. possession  of  land  which  is,  either 
in  whole  or  in  part,  paid  for."^  In  1855,  the  year  in  which 
these  observations  were  made,  the  Institute  had  already 
passed  the  zenith  of  its  usefulness,  and  its  buildings  were 
fast  falling  into  a  state  of  melancholy  dilapidation.  The 
cause  of  this  decline  is  probably  to  be  found  in  the  bad  feel- 
ing, neglect  and  failure  arising  out  of  a  divided  manage- 
ment. * 

The  origin  of  the  Elgin  Settlement  is  discussed  above; 
whether  or  not  it  was  projected  by  Lord  Elgin  in  1848,  it  is 
certain  that  in  1849  the  Rev.  William  King,  a  Presbyterian 
clergyman  from  Louisiana,  had  manumitted  and  settled  slaves 
on  this  tract.  This  company,  fifteen  in  number,  formed  the 
nucleus  of  a  community  named  Buxton,  in  honor  of  Thomas 
Fowell  Buxton,  the  philanthropist,  and  the  rapid  growth  of 
the  settlement  thus  begun  seems  to  have  led  to  the  incorpo- 
ration of  the  Elgin  Association  in  August,  1850.     It  is  prob- 

1  Life  ofjosiah  Benson,  formerly  a  Slave,  as  narrated  by  Himself,  p.  118. 

"  Ibid.,  p.  117. 

'  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  309. 

*  Father  Benson's  Story  of  His  Own  Life,  pp.  182-186. 


able  that  Mr.  King  early  became  the  chief  agent  in  advancing 
the  interests  of  the  settlers,  his  support  being  derived  mainly 
from  the  Mission  Committee  of  the  Presbyterian  Church  of 
Canada.  The  plan  that  was  carried  out  under  his  manage- 
ment provided  for  the  parcelling  of  the  land  into  farms  of  fifty 
acres  each,  to  be  had  by  the  colonists  at  the  government  price, 
two  dollars  and  fifty  cents  per  acre,  payable  in  twelve  annual 
instalments.  No  houses  inferior  to  the  model  of  a  small  log 
house  prescribed  by  the  improvement  committee  were  to  be 
erected,  ^  although  settlers  were  permitted  to  build  as  much 
better  as  they  chose.  A  court  of  arbitration  was  established 
for  the  adjudication  of  disputes,  and  a  day-school  and  Sun- 
day-school gave  much  needed  instruction. 

The  growth  of  the  Elgin  Settlement  is  set  forth  in  a  series 
of  reports,  which  afford  many  interesting  facts  about  the 
enterprise.  The  number  of  families  that  entered  the  settle- 
ment during  the  first  two  years  and  eight  months  is  given  as 
seventy-five;^  a  year  later  this  number  was  increased  to 
one  hundred  and  thirty  families,  comprising  five  hundred 
and  twenty  persons ;  ^  the  year  following  there  were  a  hun- 
dred and  fifty  families  in  Buxton;*  and  eight  years  later, 
in  1862,  when  Dr.  Howe  visited  Canada,  he  was  informed 
by  Mr.  King  that  the  population  of  the  settlement  was 
"about  one  thousand,  —  men,  women  and  children,"  and 
that  two  thousand  acres  had  been  deeded  in  fee  simple  to 
purchasers,  one-third  of  which  had  been  paid  for,  principal 
and  interest.  The  impressions  of  Dr.  Howe  are  well  worth 
quoting:  "  Buxton  is  certainly  a  very  interesting  place.  Six- 
teen years  ago  it  was  a  wilderness.  Now,  good  highways 
are  laid  out  in  all  directions  through  the  forest ;  and  by  their 
side,  standing  back  thirty-three  feet  from  the  road,  are  about 
two  hundred  cottages,  all  built  on  the  same  pattern,  all  look- 
ing neat  and  comfortable.      Around  each  one  is  a  cleared 

1  The  dimensions  of  the  model  house  were  twenty-four  by  eighteen  feet, 
and  twelve  feet  high. 

^  Third  Annual  Beport,  September,  1852,  quoted  by  Drew  in  North-Side 
View  of  Slavery,  p.  293. 

'  Fourth  Annual  Beport,  September,  1853.     See  Drew's  work,  p.  294. 

*  Fifth  Annual  Beport,  September,  1854 ;  Drew's  work,  p.  295. 


place,  of  several  acres,  whicli  is  well  cultivated.  The  fences 
are  in  good  order,  the  barns  seem  vrell-iilled ;  and  cattle  and 
horses,  and  pigs  and  poultry,  abound.  There  are  signs  of 
industry  and  thrift  and  comfort  everywhere ;  signs  of  intem- 
perance, of  idleness,  of  want,  nowhere.  There  is  no  tavern, 
and  no  groggery ;  but  there  is  a  chapel  and  a  schoolhouse. 

"  Most  interesting  of  all  are  the  inhabitants.  Twenty  years 
ago  most  of  them  were  slaves,  who  owned  nothing,  not  even 
their  children.  Now  they  own  themselves ;  they  own  their 
houses  and  farms ;  and  they  have  their  wives  and  children 
about  them.  They  are  enfranchised  citizens  of  a  government 
which  protects  their  rights.  .  .  .  The  present  condition  of 
aU  these  colonists,  as  compared  with  their  former  one  is  very 
remarkable."  ^  Mr.  King  told  Dr.  Howe  that  only  three  of 
the  whole  number  that  settled  in  the  colony  had  their  first 
instalment  on  their  farms  paid  for  them  by  friends ;  ^  and  he 
summed  up  his  experience  as  follows :  "  This  settlement  is  a 
perfect  success.  .  .  .  Here  are  men  who  were  bred  in  sla- 
very, who  came  here  and  purchased  land  at  the  government 
prices,  cleared  it,  bought  their  own  implements,  built  their 
own  houses  after  a  model,  and  have  supported  themselves  in 
all  material  circumstances,  and  now  support  their  schools, 
in  part.  ...  I  consider  that  this  settlement  has  done  as 
well  as  a  white  settlement  would  have  done  under  the  same 
circumstances."  ^ 

The  colony  known  as  Refugees'  Home  was  the  outgrowth 
of  a  suggestion  of  Henry  Bibb,  who  was  himself  a  fugitive 
slave.  Soon  after  the  passage  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of 
1850,  he  proposed  the  formation  of  "  a  society  which  should 
'  aim  to  purchase  thirty  thousand  acres  of  government  land 
...  in  the  most  suitable  sections  of  Canada  .  .  .  for  the 
homeless  refugees  from  American  slavery  to  settle  upon.' " 
The  association,  organized  in  the  summer  of  1852,  set  about 
carrying  out  Bibb's  plan  and  accomplishing  a  work  similar 
to  the  objects  of  the  Elgin  Association.  The  money  required 
for  the  purchase  of  land  was  to  be  obtained  partly  through 
contributions  and  partly  through  sales   of  the   farms   first 

iHowe,  Befugeesfrom  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  70,  71. 
'  Ibid.,  p.  108.  *  Ibid.,  p.  110. 


marketed.  Each  family  of  colonists  was  to  have  twenty-five 
acres,  "  five  of  which "  it  was  to  "  receive  free  of  cost,  pro- 
vided "  it  should  "  within  three  years  from  the  time  of  occu- 
pancy, clear  and  cultivate  the  same."  For  the  remaining 
twenty  acres  the  original  price  —  two  dollars  an  acre  —  was 
to  be  paid  in  nine  equal  annual  payments.  Those  obtaining 
land  from  the  Association,  whether  by  purchase  or  gift,  were 
to  hold  it  for  fifteen  years  before  having  the  right  to  dispose 
of  it. 

In  the  first  year  of  the  association's  existence  forty  lots  of 
twenty-five  acres  each  were  taken  up,  and  arrangements  were 
made  for  a  school  and  church.  Mrs.  Laura  S.  Haviland  was 
employed  as  a  teacher  in  the  fall  of  1852,  and  at  once  opened 
both  a  day-school  and  a  Sunday-school.  She  also  organized 
an  unsectarian  or  Christian  Union  Church,  which  later 
entered  the  Methodist  Episcopal  denomination.  The  mate- 
rial condition  of  the  settlers  Mrs.  Haviland  describes  for  us 
in  a  few  words.  She  says :  "  They  had  erected  a  frame-house 
for  school  and  meeting  purposes.  The  settlers  had  built  for 
themselves  small  log  houses,  and  cleared  from  one  to  five 
acres  each  on  their  heavily  timbered  land,  and  raised  corn, 
potatoes  and  other  garden  vegetables.  A  few  had  put  in 
two  and  three  acres  of  wheat,  and  were  doing  well  for  their 
first  year."  ^ 

The  three  colonies  described  in  the  foregoing  pages  are 
typical  of  a  number  of  communities  settled  upon  lands  pur- 
chased in  Canada  for  their  use,  and  regulated  by  rules  drawn 
up  by  the  associations  that  had  sprung  into  existence  for  the 
benefit  of  the  homeless  refugees.  The  assumption  upon 
which  these  associations  proceeded  was  that  they  were  to 
deal  with  a  class  of  persons  who,  notwithstanding  their 
present  destitution,  were  desirous  of  living  worthily  in  the 
state  of  freedom  to  which  they  had  just  attained,  a  class 
needing  direction,  instruction  and  opportunity  for  self-help 
rather  than  sustained  charity.  It  was  intended  that  fugitives 
should  not  be  left  to  work  out  alone  their  own  salvation,  but 
that  the  deficiencies  of  ignorance  and  inexperience  should  be 
mitigated  for  those  willing  to  profit  by  the  good  offices  of  the 

1  Laura  S.  Haviland,  A  Woman's  Life  Work,  pp.  192,  196,  201. 


missions.  The  fugitive  aid  society  did  not,  as  we  have  already- 
seen,  try  to  prevent  the  fugitives  from  settling  together  in 
the  form  of  communities;  on  the  contrary,  such  coloniza- 
tion was  the  inevitable  result  of  their  procedure,  and  doubt- 
less to  them  it  seemed  desirable.  Such  is  the  suggestion 
contained  in  the  arrangement  under  which  farms  were  sold 
to  purchasers  by  the  Elgin  and  Refugees'  Home  associations : 
settlers  on  the  tract  of  the  former  agreed  to  hold  their  farms 
for  at  least  ten  years  without  transferring  their  rights; 
settlers  on  the  land  of  the  latter  were  to  keep  their  holdings 
for  a  minimum  of  fifteen  years  without  transfer.  In  the 
dealings  of  the  Home  Association  this  restriction,  we  are 
told,  caused  some  dissatisfaction. 

Whether  this  segregation  of  the  colored  people  in  localities 
more  or  less  apart  from  the  white  population  of  Canada  was 
a  good  thing  for  the  refugees  has  been  questioned.  Dr.  S. 
G.  Howe  studied  the  life  of  this  class  in  Canada  in  1862  as 
the  representative  of  the  United  States  Freedman's  Inquiry 
Commission,  and  wrote  a  report  which  is  indispensable  for  a 
knowledge  of  the  conditions  surrounding  the  colored  settlers 
in  the  provinces.  He  summarizes  his  judgment  as  follows : 
"  The  negroes,  going  into  an  inhabited  and  civilized  country, 
should  not  be  systematically  congregated  in  communities. 
Their  natural  affinities  are  strong  enough  to  keep  up  all 
desirable  relations  without  artificial  encouragement.  Expe- 
rience shows  that  they  do  best  when  scattered  about,  and 
forming  a  small  proportion  of  the  whole  community. 

"  Next,  the  discipline  of  the  colonies,  though  it  only  sub- 
jects the  negroes  to  what  is  considered  useful  apprenticeship, 
does  prolong  a  dependence  which  amounts  almost  to  servi- 
tude ;  and  does  not  convert  them  so  surely  into  hardy,  self- 
reliant  men,  as  the  rude  struggle  with  actual  difficulties, 
which  they  themselves  have  to  face  and  to  overcome,  instead 
of  doing  so  through  an  agent. 

"  Taken  as  a  whole,  the  colonists  have  cost  to  somebody  a 
great  deal  of  money  and  a  great  deal  of  effort ;  and  they 
have  not  succeeded  so  well  as  many  who  have  been  thrown 
entirely  upon  their  own  resources.  .  .  . 

"  It  is  just  to  say  that  some  intelligent  persons,  friends  of 


the  colored  people,  believe  that  in  none  of  the  colonies,  not 
even  in  Buxton,  do  they  succeed  so  well,  upon  the  whole,  as 
those  who  are  thrown  entirely  upon  their  own  resources."  ^ 

Upon  examination,  these  objections  do  not  seem  to  be  well 
grounded.  It  is  noteworthy  that  of  the  prime  movers  in  the 
organization  of  the  three  colonies  we  have  considered,  two, 
Josiah  Henson  and  Henry  Bibb,  were  themselves  fugitive 
slaves ;  the  third,  the  Rev.  William  King,  had  been  at  one 
time  a  slave-owner,  and  the  fourth,  the  Rev.  Hiram  Wilson, 
was  a  missionary  among  the  refugees  for  many  years.  These 
men  were  persons  of  wide  observation  and  experience  among 
fugitive  slaves.  It  is  safe  to  say  that  there  were  no  men  in 
Canada  that  knew  better  the  disadvantages  under  which  the 
average  fugitive,  just  arrived  from  the  South,  was  called  upon 
to  begin  the  struggle  for  a  livelihood.  And  it  will  be  ad- 
mitted that  there  were  none  in  or  out  of  Canada  more  zeal- 
ous and  self-sacrificing  in  promoting  the  refugee's  interests. 
These  men  evidently  believed  that  the  fugitive  was  not  in  a 
condition  to  do  the  best  for  himself  upon  his  first  arrival  on 
free  soil,  that  he  needed  to  be  delivered  in  some  degree  from 
the  weight  of  his  ignorance,  and  guided  in  his  wholesome 
ambition  to  secure  a  home. 

To  the  eyes  of  some  Canadian  observers  those  runaways 
who  had  lingered  a  while  in  the  Northern  states  before  cross- 
ing the  border  into  Canada  appeared  to  be  more  vigorous, 
independent  and  successful  in  all  undertakings  than  their 
less  experienced  brethren.  Whatever  superiority  they  may 
have  possessed  that  is  not  assignable  to  natural  endow- 
ment, cannot  safely  be  set  down  to  the  unchecked  play  upon 
them  of  rough  experiences,  or  to  their  facing  and  vanquishing 
great  discouragements  unaided.  The  runaway  slaves  that 
lived  in  the  free  states  were  not  as  a  class  left  to  fight  their 
way  to  attainable  success  alone.  They  settled  among  friends 
in  anti-slavery  neighborhoods,  whether  in  city  or  country, 
and  were  stimulated  by  the  practical  interest  manifested  by 
these  persons  in  their  welfare.  They  were  thus  enabled  to 
benefit  by  those  educative  influences  that  the  missions  of 
Canada  were  organized  to  supply.     It  is  not  improbable  that 

1  The  Refugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  69,  70. 


some  of  the  refugees  whose  self-reliant  behavior  called  out 
the  approval  of  Dr.  Howe  and  others  belonged  to  this  group 
of  partly  disciplined  fugitives.  Dr.  Howe  must  have  seen 
many  such  persons,  for  his  journey  in  Canada  West  was  not 
made  until  1862,  after  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850  had 
driven  many  of  them  from  the  states  into  the  provinces.  Drew 
remarks  pertinentiy :  "  The  Fugitive  Slave  Bill  drove  into 
Canada  a  great  many  who  had  resided  in  the  free  states. 
These  brought  some  means  with  them,  and  their  efforts  and 
good  example  have  improved  the  condition  of  the  older 
settiers."  ^ 

The  other  group  of  Canadian  refugees  —  those  whose  pas- 
sage had  been  direct  from  the  condition  of  abject  dependence, 
where  the  whole  routine  of  life  had  been  determined  by  the 
master  or  overseer,  to  the  condition  of  active  independence 
and  responsibility,  where  the  readiness  to  take  hold  and  to 
care  for  one's  own  interests  were  requii-ed  —  this  group  doubt- 
less contained  persons  of  ability  and  energy ;  but  they  must 
have  been  in  the  minority.  During  the  later  years  of  its 
history  the  Underground  Railroad  made  flight  comparatively 
easy  for  all  who  once  got  out  of  the  slave  states,  so  that  frail 
women  and  young  children  often  went  through  to  Canada 
with  littie  or  no  difficulty.  There  were  of  course  many 
individuals  of  extraordinary  ability,  who  had  enjoyed  in 
slavery  a  wider  range  of  experience  than  was  vouchsafed 
the  average  slave ;  but  such  people  could  take  care  of  them- 
selves anywhere.  Here  we  are  concerned  with  the  large 
number  that  needed  to  have  the  way  pointed  out  to  them 
if  they  were  ever  to  become  the  possessors  of  their  own 
homes ;  thev  were  not  sufficientiy  informed  to  originate  and 
carry  on  successful  building  and  loan  associations  for  them- 
selves, but  they  certainly  could  profit  by  an  institution  de- 
vised to  serve  the  same  purpose.  If  it  be  admitted  that 
ownership  of  land  and  all  that  that  implies  was  a  good  thing 
for  the  refugee,  then  it  is  difficult  to  see  how  that  idea  could 
have  been  better  inculcated  far  and  wide  than  through  the 
methods  employed  by  the  Canadian  organizations. 

Besides  enabling  refugees  to  secxire  homes  for  themselves 

1  A  Xorth-Side  new  of  Slavery,  p.  367. 


there  were  other  offices  the  associations  conceived  to  be 
a  part  of  their  duty,  and  the  performance  of  which  is  set 
forth  in  their  records.  The  first  and  most  urgent  of  these 
was  to  supply  immediate  relief  to  the  wayworn  travellers 
continually  arriving ;  with  this  was  combined  the  necessity 
of  helping  these  persons  to  find  employment.  The  British 
and  American  Institute  at  Dawn  was  obliged  to  conduct,  as 
part  of  its  workj^ghat  would  now  be  called  perhaps  asuggljL 
apd-eraploymentbureau.  Josiah  Henson,  one  of  the'Iounders 
of  the  Institute,  describing  this  branch  of  the  work,  says: 
"  Many  of  these  poor  creatures  arrive  destitute  of  means,  and 
often  in  want  of  suitable  clothing,  and  these,  as  far  as  possible, 
have  been  supplied  them.  Since  the  passage  of  the  late 
Fugitive  Slave  Bill,  .  .  .  they  have  arrived  in  large  numbers 
at  the  Institute,  and  have  been  drafted  off  among  their 
brethren  who  had  been  previously  settled,  and  who  are  now 
making  every  effort  and  sacrifice  to  meet  their  destitute 
circumstances."^  Henry  Bibb,  of  the  Refugees'  Home,  as 
early  as  1843  saw  the  need  of  maintaining  a  stock  of  supplies 
at  Windsor  out  of  which  to  relieve  the  immediate  necessities 
of  fugitives.^  The  missionary,  Isaac  J.  Rice,  kept  a  similar 
supply  room  at  Amherstburg.^  It  appears  from  all  this  that 
the  recognition  of  the  deplorable  destitution  of  arriving 
fugitives  was  general  among  the  aid  societies  and  their 
representatives,  and  that  prompt  action  was  taken  to  meet 
wants  that  could  brook  no  delay. 

Another  service  performed  by  these  colonization  societies 
was  that  of  providing  superior  schools  for  the  colored  people  ; 
education  for  all  that  could  take  it  was  one  of  the  cardinal 
features  of  their  programme.  The  state  of  public  sentiment 
in  some  places  in  Canada  was  such  that  colored  children 
were  either  altogether  excluded  from  the  public  schools,  or, 
if  allowed  to  enter,  they  were  annoyed  beyond  endurance  by 
the  rude  behavior  of  their  fellow-pupils.  In  some  places 
they  braved  the  prejudice  against  them,  but  the  numbers 
courageous   enough   to   do   this  were   insignificant.     Under 

^  The  Life  of  Josiah  Henson,  as  narrated  by  Himself,  p.  117. 
*  Conversation  with  the  Rev.  Jacob  Cummings,  a  refugee  now  living  at 
Columbus,  O.  8  76j^_ 


such  circumstances  the  best  that  could  be  done  by  the  friends 
of  the  black  race  was  to  open  schools  under  private  manage- 
ment. That  the  societies  were  not  averse  to  mixed  schools 
is  shown  by  the  fact  that  white  pupils  were  admitted  in  vari- 
ous instances  to  classes  formed  primarily  for  colored  children.^ 
This  need  of  schools  did  not  appeal  alone  to  the  colonization 
societies.  It  was  seen  and  responded  to  by  other  organiza- 
tions ;  thus  the  English  Colonial  Church  and  School  Society 
thought  it  advisable  to  locate  schools  at  London,^  Amherst- 
burg,^  Colchester*  and  perhaps  other  places;  and  certain 
religious  bodies  of  the  United  States  felt  it  incumbent  on 
them  to  support  school-teachers  (ten  or  more)  in  different 
parts  of  Canada.^  Besides  the  schools  thus  provided  a  few 
were  conducted  by  individuals;  as  examples  of  this  latter 
class  may  be  named  a  private  school  at  Chatham  taught  by 
Alfred  Whipper,^  a  colored  man,  and  another  at  Windsor 
managed  by  Mrs.  Mary  E.  Bibb,  the  wife  of  Henry  Bibb  men- 
tioned above.'^ 

The  supervision  of  the  colonies  maintained  by  their  re- 
spective associations  does  not  appear  to  have  been  unduly 
strict.  Occasionally  controversies  came  up  over  what  was 
thought  by  the  refugees  to  be  improper  assumption  of  author- 
ity by  some  agent  or  representative  of  the  association,  but  an 
examination  of  the  terms  under  which  land  was  taken  by  the 
intending  settlers  brings  to  light  only  such  rules  as  were 
meant  to  foster  intelligence,  morality  and  sobriety  among  the 
colonists.  The  aid  societies  were  not  only  zealous  for  educa- 
tion. They  also  provided  against  those  evil  influences  to 
which  they  thought  the  negroes  were  most  likely  to  succumb. 
Thus,  for  example,  in  the  case  of  the  Buxton  ^  and  Refugees' 
Home  settlements  the  manufacture  and  sale  of  intoxicants 
were  forbidden.     Such  regulations  seem  to  have   been  sus- 

^  First  Annual  Eeport  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Society  of  Canada,  1852, 
Appendix,  p.  22. 

2  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  148. 
«i6jd.,p.  349. 

*  Ibid.,  p.  369. 

'  First  Annual  Report  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Society  of  Canada,  1852,  p.  22. 

•  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  236. 

'  Ibid.,  p.  322.  8  Ibid.,  pp.  294,  325. 


tained  by  the  sentiment  of  the  communities  for  which  they 
were  made,  and  are  not  known  to  have  been  the  source  of 
opposition.  Indeed,  the  directors  of  Buxton  specially  com- 
mended the  habits  of  sobriety  prevalent  among  the  people 
whose  best  interests  they  were  striving  to  promote,^  and  the 
Rev.  William  King  found  satisfaction  in  the  fact  that  a 
saloon  opened  on  the  borders  of  that  settlement  could  not 
find  customers  enough  to  support  it,  and  closed  its  doors 
within  a  twelvemonth.  His  testimony  relating  to  the  stand- 
ard of  social  purity  mantained  by  the  colonists  was  creditable 
in  its  showing,  and  indicated  a  high  sense  of  morality  scarcely 
to  be  expected  among  a  people  stained  by  the  gross  prac- 
tices of  slave-life.2  Of  the  colored  people  in  the  neighbor- 
hood of  Dawn  Institute  the  reports  were  equally  good.  Mr. 
Drew  found  them  to  be  "  generally  very  prosperous  farmers  — 
of  good  morals,  and  mostly  Methodists  and  Baptists."  ^  Mr. 
Henson  related  with  evident  pride  that  out  of  the  three 
thousand  or  four  thousand  colored  people  congregated  in  the 
settlements  about  Dawn  not  one  had  "  been  sent  to  jail  for 
any  infraction  of  the  laws  during  the  last  seven  years 

The  widest  range  of  dissatisfaction  appeared  at  the  Refu- 
gees' Home,  where  the  fugitives  are  reputed  to  have  been 
unduly  burdened.  Thomas  Jones,  not  a  colonist,  and  with- 
out any  personal  grievances  to  complain  of,  voiced  the  feel- 
ing to  Mr.  Drew.  After  relating  some  annoying  changes 
made  in  the  regulations  as  to  the  time  in  which  clearings 
were  to  be  made,  as  to  the  size  of  the  houses  to  be  erected 
and  so  forth,  he  declared  that  the  settlers  "doubt  about 
getting  deeds,  .  .  .  The  restrictions  in  regard  to  liquor,  and 
not  selling  [their  land]  under  so  many  years,  nor  the  power 
to  will  .  .  .  property  to  .  .  .  friends,  only  to  children  if  .  .  . 
[they]  have  any,  make  them  dissatisfied.  They  want  to  do 
as  they  please."     From  this  it  appears  that  the  population  of 

'  Third  Annual  Report  (1852),  quoted  by  Drew,  p.  293. 
2  Howe,  Mefugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  109,  110. 
'  Drew,  A  Norlh-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  309. 

*  The  Life  of  Josiah  Henson,  formerly  a  Slave,  as  narrated  by  Simself, 
p.  118. 


Refugees'  Home  was  not  altogether  content  with  the  local 
government  under  which  it  liyed,  but  apparently  the  com- 
plaints made  were  to  be  attributed  more  to  the  unjust 
changes  in  the  charter  of  the  colony  than  to  the  moral  regime 
the  Home  Association  sought  to  enforce. 

In  general  we  may  say,  then,  that  in  so  far  as  the  three 
colonies  considered  were  typical  of  the  whole  class,  there  was 
nothing  inherent  in  the  provisions  of  their  constitutions  or 
in  the  nature  of  their  organizations  to  place  their  members  in 
a  kind  of  servitude.  As  property  owners,  these  citizens  be- 
came subject  to  legitimate  obligations,  which  might  have  been 
differently  arranged,  but  could  scarcely  have  been  less  oner- 
ous or  of  better  intention.  The  requirement  that  ownership 
should  be  for  a  period  of  ten  or  fifteen  years,  made  by  the 
Elgin  and  Refugees'  Home  societies,  was  perhaps  annoying; 
but  the  explanation,  if  not  the  full  justification,  of  such  a  de- 
mand lay  in  the  evident  desire  of  the  societies  to  give  all 
purchasers  ample  time  in  which  to  make  their  payments, 
and  in  the  irresponsibility  of  the  class  with  which  they  were 

It  is  impossible  to  tell  how  many  landed  colonies  there 
were  in  Canada.  Dr.  Howe,  perhaps  the  best  contemporary 
observer,  speaks  indefinitely  of  benevolent  persons  that  formed 
organizations  at  various  periods  for  the  relief  and  aid  of  the 
refugees,  and  says  that  these  organizations  generally  took  the 
form  of  societies  for  procuring  tracts  of  land  and  settling 
colonies  upon  them,  but  he  gives  no  further  details.^  What- 
ever their  number,  it  is  quite  certain  that  these  colonies  com- 
prised but  a  small  part  of  the  refugee  population.  The 
natural  tendency  was  for  fugitives  to  drift  at  once  to  the 
towns,  where  there  was  immediate  prospect  of  relief  and 
employment.  In  this  way  many  of  the  Canadian  centres 
came  to  have  an  increasing  proportion  of  colored  inhabitants. 
The  towns  first  receiving  such  additions  were  naturally  those 
of  mercantile  importance  in  the  lake  traffic  of  the  decades 
before  the  Civil  War.  Thus,  Amherstburg  and  Windsor, 
Port  Stanley  and  Port  Burwell,  St.  Catherines,  Hamilton  and 

1  Howe,  Befugees  from  Slaver;/  in  Canada  West,  p.  69. 


Toronto,  and  Kingston  and  Montreal,  early  became  important 
places  of  resort  for  escaped  slaves. 

The  movement  vi^as  normally  from  these  and  other  centres 
on  the  lake  shore,  or  near  it,  to  the  interior.  How  rapid  it 
was  we  can  only  judge  by  the  few  chance  indications  that 
remain.  During  Drew's  travels  in  Canada  West  he  learned 
that  in  1832  the  town  of  Chatham  was  a  mere  hamlet  com- 
prising a  few  houses  and  two  or  three  shops,  although  the 
oldest  deed  of  the  place  on  record  is  dated  1801.  Steamboats 
did  not  begin  to  ply  on  the  river  Sydenham  between  Chatham 
and  Detroit  until  1837.  But  long  before  this  year,  and,  in 
fact,  at  the  first  settlement  of  the  town,  colored  people  began 
to  come  in.^  When  Levi  Coffin  made  his  first  trip  to  Canada, 
in  1844,  he  visited  a  number  of  settlements  of  colored  people 
scattered  along  the  river  Thames  north  of  Dawn,  and  found 
the  colony  at  Wilberforce  already  established.^  This  colony 
had  been  founded  as  early  as  1830,  and  because  it  was 
originally  settled  by  a  group  of  emancipated  slaves,  it  soon 
began  to  attract  new  settlers  from  the  incoming  stream  of 
runaways.  By  1846  the  more  distant  interior  was  invaded. 
In  that  year  the  long  strip  of  country  stretching  from  the 
western  extremity  of  Lake  Ontario  across  to  Lake  Huron, 
and  designated  on  the  general  map  as  Queen's  Bush,  was 
entered  by  pioneers  who  had  escaped  from  slavery.  This 
region  was  not  surveyed  until  about  1848,  and  by  that  time 
there  were  as  many  as  fifty  families  located  there.'  Some 
time  during  the  years  1845  to  1847,  the  Rev.  R.  S.  W.  Sorrick 
went  as  far  north  as  Oro,  where  he  found  "  some  fifty  persons 
settled,  many  comfortable  and  doing  well,  but  many  [suffer- 
ing] a  great  deal  from  poverty."  *  The  surveying  of  the  tract 
called  Queen's  Bush,  and  the  subsequent  arranging  of  the 
terms  of  payment  for  land  already  occupied,  caused  a  number 
of  colored  settlers  to  sell  their  clearings  in  "  the  Bush  "  and 
move  away.  Some  of  these,  it  appears,  went  south  to  Buxton, 
but  some  went  north  to  the  shores  of  Georgian  Bay  and 

1  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  235. 
"  Reminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin,  p.  521. 
'  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  189. 
*  Ibid.,  p.  190. 


located  at  Owen  Sound.^  From  this  testimony  it  is  certain 
that  by  1850  fugitive  slaves  had  found  their  way  in  consider- 
able numbers  throughout  the  inter-lake  portion  of  Canada 

Farther  east,  the  Province  of  Quebec  attracted  negroes 
from  the  Southern  states  as  early  as  the  thirties ;  and  they 
began  to  make  pilgrimages  northward  by  way  of  secret  lines 
of  travel  through  New  England.  By  1850,  there  were  at  least 
five  or  six  of  these  lines,  all  well  patronized,  considering  their 
remoteness  from  slaveholding  territory.  Maritime  routes,  by 
way  of  ports  along  the  New  England  coast  to  New  Brunswick, 
Nova  Scotia,  and  even  Cape  Breton  Island,  seem  also  to  have 
existed.  A  case  is  cited  by  the  Rev.  Austin  Willey  in  his 
book,  entitled  Ayiti-Slavery  in  the  State  and  Nation,  in  which 
more  than  twenty  colored  refugees  were  sent  from  Portland 
to  New  Brunswick  at  one  time,  soon  after  the  rescue  of 
Shadrach  in  Boston,  in  1851.  It  is  reported  that  there  are 
still  settlements  of  ex-slaves  in  Nova  Scotia,  near  Halifax  ;2 
and  the  statement  has  recently  been  made  that  "  there  are  at 
least  two  negro  families  living  in  Inverness  County,  Cape 
Breton,  who  are,  in  all  probability,  the  descendants  of  fugitive 
slaves."  2 

As  regards  this  movement  into  the  Eastern  provinces,  no 
detailed  information  can  be  had.  Even  in  the  Western  lake- 
bound  region,  it  was  the  towns  that  were  the  most  accessible 
for  the  traveller  desirous  of  studying  the  condition  of  fugi- 
tives; most  visitors  contented  themselves  with  the  briefest 
memorials  of  their  visits ;  and  those  whose  accounts  are  at 
the  same  time  helpful  and  extended,  describe  or  even  men- 
tion only  a  limited  number  of  abiding-places  of  escaped  slaves. 
Though  Drew  notices  in  his  book  but  thirteen  communities, 
and  Dr.  Howe  refers  to  eleven  only,  numerous  other  places 
are  mentioned  by  other  observers.  Sketching  his  first  visit 
to   Canada,  Mr.  Coffin  writes  :   "  Leaving  Gosfield  County, 

1  Drew,  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  190. 

2  A  statement  to  this  effect,  which  appeared  in  the  Marine  Journal  of 
New  York,  is  quoted  in  McClure's  Magazine  for  May,  1897,  p.  618. 

•  See  the  letter  signed  "D.  F.,"  printed  in  McClure's  Magazine,  May, 
1897,  p.  618. 


we  made  our  way  to  Chatham  and  Sydenham,  visiting  the 
various  neighborhoods  of  colored  people.  We  spent  several 
days  at  the  settlement  near  Down's  Mills,  and  visited  the 
institution  under  the  care  of  Hiram  Wilson,  called  the  British 
and  American  Manual  Labor  Institute.  .  .  .  From  this  place 
we  proceeded  up  the  river  Thames  to  London,  visiting  the 
different  settlements  of  colored  people  on  our  way,  and  then 
went  to  the  Wilberforce  colony."  ^  After  naming  a  list  of 
twelve  towns  near  which  refugees  had  settled,  Josiah  Henson 
says:  "Others  are  scattered  in  small  numbers  in  different 
townships,  and  at  Toronto  there  are  about  four  hundred  or 
five  hundred  variously  employed.  .  .  ."  ^  Such  testimony 
goes  to  show  that  the  refugee  population  of  Canada  was 
widely  distributed,  both  in  the  cities  and  towns  and  in  the 

If  the  information  at  hand  in  regard  to  the  distribution 
of  the  refugees  is  unsatisfactory,  it  can  hardly  be  expected 
that  the  numbers  can  now  be  ascertained.  The  official  fig- 
ures of  the  successive  Canadian  censuses  are  untrustworthy. 
Dr.  Howe,  who  studied  them,  concluded  that,  "  It  is  impossi- 
ble to  ascertain  the  number  of  exiles  who  have  found  refuge 
in  Canada  since  1800.  ...  It  is  difficult,  moreover,  to 
ascertain  the  present  number  (1862).  The  census  of  1850 
is  confused.  It  puts  the  number  in  Upper  Canada  at  2,502 
males  and  2,167  females.  But  in  a  note  it  is  stated,  '  there 
are  about  8,000  colored  persons  in  Western  Canada.'  This 
word  "  about "  is  an  admission  of  the  uncertainty ;  and  as  if 
to  make  that  uncertainty  greater,  the  same  census  in  another 
part  puts  the  number  in  Western  Canada  at  4,669."  The 
census  of  1860  Dr.  Howe  found  to  be  equally  unreliable. 
In  giving  the  colored  population  as  11,223,  it  underrated 
the  number  greatly,  as  he  discovered  by  looking  into  the 
records  of  several  cities  and  by  making  inquiry  of  town  offi- 
cers. In  this  manner  he  learned  that  the  number  of  colored 
people  living  in  St.  Catherines  was  about  700,  although  the 
census  showed  only  472  ;  in  Hamilton,  probably  more  than 

1  lieminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin,  p.  251.     The  italics  are  my  own. 
"  The  Life  of  Josiah  Henson,  formerly  a  Slave,  as  narrated  by  Himself, 
p.  100. 


500,  despite  the  government  showing  of  only  62 ;  in  Toronto, 
934,  although  the  census  gave  but  510 ;  in  London,  Canada 
West,  as  the  mayor  estimated,  there  were  75  families  of  col- 
ored people,  whereas  the, census  showed  only  36  persons. 
"There  has  been  no  movement  of  the  colored  population," 
Dr.  Howe  tells  us,  "  sufficient  to  explain  such  discrepancies  ; 
and  the  conclusion  is  that  the  census  of  1850,  and  that  of 
1860,  included  some  of  the  colored  people  in  the  white 
column. "  ^ 

If  the  information  contained  in  the  census  reports  of 
the  Canadas  relating  to  the  refugee  population  of  the 
provinces  is  misleading,  so.  also  is  it  true  that  little  value 
can  be  attached  to  the  estimates  made  at  various  times 
by  visitors  to  the  communities  of  fugitives,  most  of  whom 
had  inadequate  data  upon  which  to  base  their  con- 
clusions. These  estimates  ■  not  only  differ  widely,  but 
sometimes  leave  room  for  doubt  as  to  what  geographical 
area  and  period  of  time  they  are  intended  to  cover. 
Coffin  in  1844  was  told  that  there  were  about  forty  thou- 
sand fugitives  in  Canada; 2  but  eight  years  later  Henson 
estimated  the  number  at  between  twenty  thousand  and 
thirty  thousand,  and  daily  increasing.^  In  the  same  year 
(1852)  the  Anti-Slavery  Society  of  Canada  in  its  First 
Annual  Report  stated  that  there  were  about  thirty  thousand 
colored  residents  in  Canada  West.*  The  Rev.  Hiram  Wil- 
son said  from  the  lecture  platform  that  there  were  sixty 
thousand  fugitives  in  Canada,  and  Elder  Anthony  Bingey,  a 
coworker  with  Mr.  Wilson,  who  heard  this  estimate  given 
by  his  friend,  informed  the  writer  that  ^Ir.  Wilson  had  trav- 
elled over  the  country  from  Toronto  westward  and  was  as 
competent  a  judge  as  could  be  found  in  Ontario.^  John 
Brown  attended  a  conference  at  Chatham  in  the  spring  of 
1858,  and  his  biographer,  Mr.  R.  J.  Hiaton,  thinks  there 
were  probably  not  less  than  seventy-five  thousand  fugitives 

1  Howe,  The  Befugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  15,  16. 

*  Reminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin,  p.  253. 

»  Tke  Life  of  Josiah  Henson,  formerly  a  Slave,  as  narrated  by  Himself, 
Appendix,  p.  99. 

*  Quoted  by  Howe  in  T?ie  Befugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  p.  17. 
5  Conversation  with  Mr.  Bingey,  Windsor,  Ont.,  July  31,  1895. 


living  in  Canada  West  at  that  time.i  The  Rev.  W.  M. 
Mitchell,  a  negro  missionary  writing  in  1860,  was  of  the 
opinion  that  there  were  sixty  thousand  colored  people  in 
Upper  Canada,  that  fifteen  thousand  of  these  were  free-born, 
and  that  the  remaining  forty-five  thousand  were  fugitive 
slaves  from  the  United  States.  2  The  Rev.  Dr.  Willes,  Pro- 
fessor of  Divinity  in  Toronto  College,  is  quoted  as  having 
said  that  there  were  about  sixty  thousand  emancipated  slaves 
in  Canada,  the  most  of  whom  had  escaped  from  bondage.^ 
Dr.  Howe  came  to  the  conclusion  in  1863  that  the  whole 
number  of  slaves  enfranchised  by  residence  in  the  provinces 
was  between  thirty  and  forty  thousand.  He  thought  that 
at  the  time  of  his  visit  the  population  did  not  fall  below  fif- 
teen thousand  nor  exceed  twenty  thousand  ;  although  other 
observers,  he  said,  estimated  it  as  ranging  from  twenty 
thousand  to  thirty  thousand.* 

Besides  the  diversity  of  the  figures  here  presented,  it 
should  be  noted  that  most  of  the  estimates  refer  only  to 
Canada  West ;  and  further  that  they  take  no  account  of  the 
losses  under  a  high  death-rate,  due  to  the  action  of  the  new 
climatic  conditions  upon  the  settlers.  Travellers  were  not 
in  possession  of  the  elements  necessary  for  a  computation, 
the  resident  missions  were  tempted  to  overstate,  and  the 
Canadian  officials  did  not  know  how  to  secure  data,  and,  per- 
haps, did  not  try  to  secure  them  fully.  One  can  only  say  that 
the  numerous  lines  of  Underground  Railroad  would  not  have 
been  taxed  beyond  their  capacity  to  convey  a  number  of 
refugees  equal  to  the  highest  estimate  given  above  during 
the  period  these  lines  are  known  to  have  been  active. 

The  great  majority  of  escaped  slaves  were  possessed  of 
but  little  more  than  the  boon  of  freedom  when  they  arrived 
in  what  was  for  them  "the  promised  land."  Church  mis- 
sions, anti-slavery  societies  and  colonies  found  in  them  worthy 
subjects  for  their  benefactions,  which  were  intended  to  put 
the  recipients  in  the  way  of  earning  their  own  livelihood. 

^  John  Brown  and  His  Men,  p.  171. 

"  The  Underground  Railroad,  p.  127. 

'^  Ibid.,  p.  166. 

*  The  Befugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  15,  17. 


The  need  of  clothing,  shelter  and  employment  was  provided 
for  as  promptly  as  circumstances  would  allow,  and  the  fugi- 
tives soon  came  to  realize  that  the  efforts  made  in  their  behalf 
were  to  help  them  attain  that  independence  of  which  they 
had  been  so  long  deprived. 

As  the  region  to  which  the  refugees  had  recourse  in  largest 
numbers  was  well  covered  with  forests,  and  was  beginning 
to  be  cleared  for  tillage,  a  common  occupation  among  them 
was  that  of  the  woodsman.  Many  were  able  to  hire  them- 
selves to  the  native  farmers  to  cut  timber,  while  many 
others,  who  arranged  to  lease  or  buy  land,  went  to  work 
to  clear  garden  patches  and  little  farms  for  themselves. 
Josiah  Henson  sought  to  develop  a  lumber  industry  in  the 
neighborhood  of  Dawn  by  setting  up  a  sawmill  on  the  farm 
of  the  British  and  American  Institute,  and  shipping  its 
products  to  Boston  and  New  York.^  Such  work,  in  a  climate 
to  which  they  were  unaccustomed,  was  an  experience  beyond 
the  strength  of  some  of  the  fugitives;  and  their  exposure 
to  the  cold  of  the  Canadian  winter  sowed  the  seeds  of  con- 
sumption in  many. 2 

Farming  appears  to  have  been  the  occupation  naturally 
preferred  by  the  refugees,  and  probably  the  majority  of  them 
looked  forward  to  owning  farms. ^  It  was  the  pursuit  their 
masters  followed,  and  for  which  they  themselves  were  best 
adapted.  The  way  to  it  was  open  through  the  demand  for 
farm-hands  on  the  part  of  many  white  settlers,  and  the 
special  encouragement  frequently  needed  was  supplied  by 
the  example  and  aid  of  one  or  another  of  the  colonies. 

It  is  not  surprising  that  a  considerable  number  of  the 
fugitives  contented  themselves  with  the  present  enjoyment 
of  their  newly  acquired  liberty,  and  neglected  to  make  pro- 
vision for  the  future.  Such  persons  were  quite  ready  to 
work,  but  were  slow  to  understand  how  they  could  acquire 
land  in  time,  and  secure  the  full  profits  of  their  labor  to 
themselves.  The  weight  of  enforced  ignorance,  dependence 
and  poverty  was  upon  them.    Not  infrequently  they  entered 

1  Father  Benson's  Story  of  Mis  Own  Life,  p.  173  et  seq. 

"  This  is  substantiated  by  tbie  testimony  of  various  Canadian  refugees. 

>  First  Annual  Report  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Society  of  Canada,  p.  15. 


into  profitless  bargains,  leasing  wild  lands  on  short  terms, 
and  finding  themselves  dispossessed  when  their  clearings 
were  about  ready  for  advantageous  cultivation.^  Their 
knowledge  of  agriculture  was  scanty,  and  their  planting, 
in  consequence,  often  injudicious.  They  were,  however, 
zealous  to  learn.  The  Rev.  R.  S.  W.  Sorrick,  who  gave 
some  instruction  to  the  settlers  at  Oro  in  the  art  of  farm- 
ing, declared  them  to  be  a  most  teachable  people. ^  The 
refugees  at  Colchester  appear  to  have  been  equally  open- 
minded  to  the  practical  suggestions  given  them  in  a  series 
of  lectures  on  "crops,  wages  and  profit"  delivered  before 
them  by  Mr.  Henson. 

It  is  well  known  that  among  the  slave-owners  of  the  bor- 
der states  the  practice  existed  widely  of  entrusting  some 
of  their  negroes  with  the  responsibilities  of  farm  manage- 
ment ;  and  that  in  the  same  portion  of  the  South  slaves  were 
often  permitted  to  hire  their  own  time  for  farm  labor ;  thou- 
sands of  runaways  also  had  gathered  experience  in  the  free 
states  before  their  emigration  to  Canada;  hence  one  is  pre- 
pared in  a  measure  to  understand  the  rapid  strides  made  by 
a  large  class  of  the  negro  population  in  the  country  of  their 
adoption.  Many  of  these  people  already  had  a  gauge  of  their 
ability,  and  were  not  afraid  to  go  forward  in  the  acquirement 
of  lands  and  homes  of  their  own.  To  the  advancement  made 
by  this  numerous  class  is  due  the  favorable  comment  called 
forth  from  observing  persons,  both  Canadians  and  visiting 
Americans.  Dr.  Howe  has  left  us  some  interesting  informa- 
tion concerning  the  condition  of  refugee  farmers  in  Canada. 
He  found  some  cultivating  small  gardens  of  their  own  near 
large  towns,  where  they  had  a  ready  market  for  the  produce 
they  raised ;  others,  more  widely  scattered,  tilled  little  farms, 
which  for  the  most  part  were  clear  of  encumbrance  ;  these 
farms  were  "  inferior  to  the  first-class  farms  of  their  region 
in  point  of  cultivation,  fences,  stock  and  the  like,"  but  were 
"  equal  to  the  average  of  second-class  farms  "  ;  their  owners 
lacked  the  capital,  intelligence  and  skill  of  the  best  farmers, 

1  Father  Hensori's  Story  of  His  Own  Life,  pp.  165,  166 ;  Drew,  A  North- 
Side  View  of  Slavery,  pp.  196,  369. 

'  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  120. 


but,  far  from  being  lazy,  stupid  or  thriftless,  supported  them- 
selves in  a  fair  degree  of  comfort,  and  occupied  houses  not 
easily  distinguishable  in  appearance  from  the  farmhouses  of 
their  white  neighbors.  The  miserable  hut  of  the  worthless 
negro  squatter  was  occasionally  to  be  seen,  but  usually  the 
rude  cabin  and  small  clearing  marked  the  spot  where  a  newly 
arrived  fugitive  had  begun  his  home,  which  in  due  course 
was  to  pass  through  successive  stages  until  it  should  become 
a  well-cleared  farm,  with  good  buildings  and  a  large  stock  of 
animals  and  tools.* 

A  fact  deplored  by  some  friends  of  the  refugees  was  the 
iuclination  to  congregate  in  towns  and  cities.^  A  committee 
of  investigation  appointed  by  the  Anti-Slavery  Society  of 
Canada  reported  in  1852  that,  although  many  fugitives  were 
scattered  through  the  various  districts,  the  larger  number 
was  massing  in  certain  localities,  those  named  being  Elgin, 
Dawn  and  Colchester  village  settlements,  Sandwich,  Queen's 
Bush,  Wilberforce,  Hamilton  and  St.  Catherines,  together 
with  the  Niagara  district  and  Toronto.^  According  to 
Josiah  Henson  the  towns  about  which  these  people  were 
gathering  were  Chatham,  RUey,  Sandwich,  Anderton  (prob- 
ably Anderson),  IMalden,  Colchester,  Gonfield  (doubtless 
Gosfield),  London,  Hamilton  and  the  colonies  at  Dawn  and 
Wilberforce.*  Other  centres  undoubtedly  existed,  though 
no  exhaustive  list  of  such  places  could  be  made  from  the 
meagre  accounts  left  us. 

The  movement  to  the  towns  was  natural,  for  friends  and 
employment  were  more  easily  to  be  found  there  than  else- 
where. Certain  parts  or  quarters  of  the  towns  rapidly 
filled  up  with  the  negroes,  and  the  bonds  of  race  and  sym- 
pathy came  into  full  play,  causing  constant  accretions  of 
new  settlers.  This  was  especially  true  of  Fort  Maiden  or 
Amherstburg,  for  years  the  principal  port  of  entry  for  fugi- 
tives landing  from  the  Michigan  and  Ohio  borders.     The 

^  The  Befugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  65,  66.  See  also  Drew, 
A  Xorth-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  368. 

2  Mitchell,  The  Underground  Railroad,  p.  128. 

»  First  Annual  Beport  of  the  Society,  pp.  16,  17. 

*  The  Life  of  Josiah  Henson,  formerly  a  Slave,  as  narrated  by  Himself, 
p.  100. 


result  in  this  and  similar  cases  was  unsatisfactory  ;  the  peo- 
ple seemed  not  to  do  as  well  as  in  other  places.^  In  Hamil- 
ton and  Toronto,  we  are  told,  the  dwellings  of  the  blacks 
were  scattered  among  those  of  the  whites,  instead  of  being 
crowded  together  in  a  single  suburban  locality  more  or  less 
distinct  from  the  city  of  which  it  formed  a  part.^  However, 
local  conditions  existing  in  Toronto,  such  as  rent  charges, 
tended  to  confine  the  colored  people  to  the  northwest  sec- 
tion of  the  city.2 

A  wide  range  of  occupations  was  open  to  the  refugees  in 
the  towns  ;  besides  the  lighter  kinds  of  service  about  hotels 
and  other  public  houses,  and  the  work  of  plastering  and 
whitewashing,  often  performed  by  negroes,  various  trades 
were  followed,  such  as  blacksmithing,  carpentering,  build- 
ing, painting,  mill-work  and  other  handicrafts.  There  were 
good  negro  mechanics  in  Hamilton,  Chatham,  Windsor,  Am- 
herstburg  and  other  places.  A  few  were  engaged  in  shop- 
keeping,  or  were  employed  as  clerks,  while  a  still  smaller 
number  devoted  themselves  to  teaching  and  preaching. 

As  a  class  the  fugitives  in  the  towns,  as  in  the  country, 
were  accounted  steady  and  industrious,  and  their  dwellings 
were  said  to  be  "  generally  superior  to  those  of  the  Irish,  or 
other  foreign  emigrants  of  the  laboring  class,"  and  "far 
superior  to  the  negro  huts  upon  slave  plantations,  which 
many  of  them  formerly  inhabited."*  Dr.  J.  Wilson  Moore, 
of  Philadelphia,  visited  the  refugee  communities  in  vari- 
ous Canadian  towns,  for  example  at  Chatham,  London  and 
Wilberforce,  and  was  favorably  impressed  with  what  he  saw ; 
with  the  orderly  deportment  of  the  crowds  of  colored  peo- 

1  Dr.  Howe  quotes  the  following  statement  from  Mr.  Brush,  town  clerk  of 
Maiden  :  "A  portion  of  them  (the  colored  people)  are  pretty  well  behaved, 
and  another  portion  not.  ...  A  great  many  of  these  colored  people  go  and 
sail  (are  sailors)  in  the  summer-time,  and  in  the  winter  lie  around,  and  don't 
do  much.  .  .  We  have  to  help  a  great  many  of  them,  more  than  any  other 
class  of  people  we  have  here.  I  have  been  clerk  of  the  council  for  three 
years,  and  have  had  the  opportunity  of  knowing.  I  think  the  council  have 
given  more  to  the  colored  people  than  to  any  others."  See  also  A  North- 
Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  58. 

"  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  p.  62. 

^  Ibid.,  p.  94. 

*  Howe,  The  Refugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  p.  63. 


pie  at  Chatham  while  returning  from  a  celebration  of  the 
anniversary  of  the  West  Indian  emancipation,  with  the  air 
of  neatness  and  comfort  displayed  by  the  homes  of  the 
fugitives  at  London,  with  the  advance  from  log  cabins  to 
brick  and  frame-houses  made  by  the  settlers  at  WUberf orce.^ 
The  weight  of  evidence  supplied  by  Mr.  Drew  was  unques- 
tionably favorable  to  the  view  that  the  refugees  were  making 
substantial  progress.  He  found  the  condition  of  the  colored 
people  in  Toronto  such  as  to  be  a  proper  cause  of  satisfac- 
tion for  the  philanthropist ;  many  men  in  Hamilton  were 
well-to-do ;  concerning  those  living  in  London  he  learned 
that  some  were  highly  intelligent  and  respectable,  but  that 
others  wasted  their  time  and  neglected  their  opportunities  ; 
he  noted  that  there  was  great  activity  among  the  negroes 
at  Chatham,  where  they  engaged  in  a  large  variety  of  man- 
ual pursuits ;  at  Windsor,  almost  all  the  members  of  this 
class  had  comfortable  homes,  and  some  owned  neat  and 
handsome  houses ;  at  Sandwich  a  few  were  house-owners, 
the  rest  were  tenants ;  in  Amherstburg  the  assurance  was 
given  that  the  colored  people  of  Canada  were  doing  better 
than  the  free  negroes  in  the  United  States ;  the  settlers  at 
New  Canaan  were  reported  to  be  making  extraordinary 
progress,  considering  the  length  of  time  they  had  lived 
there ;  and  out  of  a  colored  population  of  seventy-eight  at 
Gosfield  all  of  the  heads  of  families,  with  two  or  three 
exceptions,  were  freeholders.^  Dr.  Howe,  who  visited  the 
houses  of  the  colored  people  in  the  outskirts  of  Chatham 
and  other  large  places,  described  them  as  being  for  the  most 
part  small  and  tidy  two-story  houses  with  garden  lots  about 
them,  neatly  furnished,  the  tables  decently  spread  and  plenti- 
fully supplied.  He  was  convinced  that  the  fugitive  slaves 
lived  better  than  foreign  immigrants  in  the  same  region, 
and  clothed  their  children  better.^ 

The  relation  of  the  slave  to  his  wife  and  children  was  a 

1  Still,  Underground  Bailroad  Records,  p.  xvii. 

*  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  pp.  94,  119,  147,  234,  321,  344,  348,  376, 

*  The  Refugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  63,  64.  See  also 
Mitchell's  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  130,  131,  133,  135,  137-139,  142-144, 
146,  148  et  seq. 


precarious  one  in  the  South,  especially  in  the  border  region 
from  which  most  of  the  Canadian  exiles  came.  Slave-breed- 
ing for  the  Southern  market  was  extensively  carried  on  in 
Virginia,  Kentucky  and  other  border  states  ;  slave-traders 
made  frequent  trips  through  this  section  ;  and  their  coming 
brought  consternation,  distress  and  separation  to  many  a 
slave-family.  These  and  other  violations  of  the  domestic 
ties  might  be  expected  to  react  on  the  home  life  of  the  slave- 
family,  tending  to  discourage  regard  for  the  forms  of  family 
life,  and  to  take  away  incentive  to  constancy.  In  view  of 
such  degradation  it  is  surprising  to  note  the  care  taken  by 
many  refugees  for  the  formal  legitimation  of  the  alliances 
made  by  them  in  slavery.  Once  secure  in  their  freedom 
and  in  their  domestic  relations,  they  began  to  substitute  for 
the  marriage  after  "  slave  fashion  "  the  legal  form  of  marriage, 
which  they  saw  observed  about  them  in  Canada.  Dr.  Howe 
noticed  that  the  fugitives  settled  themselves  in  families, 
respected  the  sanctity  of  marriage,  and  showed  a  general 
improvement  in  morals.^ 

This  recognition  of  a  new  standard  of  social  virtue  sig- 
nifies a  great  gain  on  the  part  of  the  refugees.  As  the  with- 
holding of  any  real  instruction  from  the  slaves  in  the  South 
helped  to  brutalize  them,  so  their  moral  elevation  in  Canada 
went  hand  in  hand  with  their  enlightenment  through  schools 
and  religious  teaching.  What  advantages  were  afforded 
them  in  the  way  of  education  in  their  new  abiding-place, 
and  what  measure  of  benefit  did  they  derive  from  these 
opportunities  ? 

It  appears  that  under  the  Canadian  law  colored  people 
were  permitted  either  to  send  their  children  to  the  common 
schools  or  to  have  separate  schools  provided  from  their  pro- 
portionate share  of  the  school  funds.  In  some  districts, 
however,  local  conditions  stood  in  the  way  of  the  education 
of  colored  children.  Many  of  the  parents  did  not  appreciate 
the  need  of  sending  their  children  to  school  regularly ;  it 
often  happened  that  they  were  too  destitute  to  take  advan- 

1  The  Hefugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  95,  101,  Appendix, 
pp.  109,  110.  In  her  book,  A  Woman's  Life  Work,  p.  193,  Mrs.  Laura  S. 
Haviland  reports  some  interesting  cases  of  this  sort. 


tage  of  these  opportunities ;  again,  they  were  unaccustomed 
to  the  enjoyment  of  equal  priyileges  with  the  whites  and  were 
timid  about  assuming  them.  The  children,  unused  to  the 
climate  of  the  new  country,  perhaps  also  thinly  clad,  were 
sickly  and  often  unable  to  go  to  school.^ 

Prejudice  was  also  not  wanting  in  some  quarters  among 
the  whites.  In  the  town  of  Sandwich,  on  the  Detroit  River, 
in  1851  or  1852,  the  feelings  of  the  two  people  were  much 
agitated  over  the  question  of  mixed  schools.^  The  towns 
of  Chatham,  London  and  Hamilton  appear  also  to  have  been 
more  or  less  affected  by  prejudice  against  the  negro. ^  Partly 
owing  to  this  prejudice,  and  partly  to  their  own  preference, 
the  colored  people,  acting  under  the  provision  of  the  law 
that  allowed  them  to  have  separate  schools,  set  up  their  own 
schools  in  Sandwich  and  in  many  other  parts  of  Ontario.* 
Drew  incidentally  noted  the  existence  of  separate  schools  at 
Colchester,  Amherstburg,  Sandwich,  Dawn  and  Buxton  ;  the 
existence  of  private  schools  at  London,  Windsor  and  perhaps 
one  or  two  other  places ;  and  the  presence  of  an  extremely 
small  number  of  colored  children  in  the  common  schools  at 
Hamilton  and  London.  Concerning  Toronto,  he  tells  us  that 
no  distinction  existed  there  in  regard  to  school  privileges. 
Such  figures  as  Drew  supplies  show  the  separate,  private  and 
mission  schools  to  have  been  more  numerously  attended  than 
the  public  or  common  schools.  The  former  furnished  the 
conditions  under  which  whatever  appreciation  of  education 
there  was  native  in  a  community  of  negroes,  or  whatever  taste 
for  it  could  be  awakened  there,  was  free  to  assert  itself  unhin- 
dered by  real  or  imagined  opposition.  That  the  refugees 
were  capable  of  a  genuine  interest  in  the  schools  provided 
for  them,  even  under  the  most  disheartening  circumstances, 
appears  from  the  fact  that  "  many  of  the  colored  settlers  were 
attracted  to  Dresden  and  Dawn  by  the  preferred  advantages 
of  education  on  the  industrial  plan  in  the  Dawn  Institute."* 
Adults  and  children  both  attended ;  the  schools  of  the 
mission-workers  were  intended  to  reach  as  many  as  possible 

1  Mitchell,  The  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  140,  164,  165. 

»  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  pp.  341,  342. 

»  Ibid.,  pp.  118, 147,  235.  ♦  Ibid.,  p.  341.  «  n^ia.,  p.  308. 


of  a  constituency  made  up  largely  of  grown  persons.  An 
evening  school  for  adults  was  established  in  Toronto,  and 
had  a  good  attendance. ^  Sunday-schools  were  an  important 
accessory,  furnishing,  as  they  did,  opportunities  to  many 
whose  week  days  were  full  of  other  cares.  Mrs.  Haviland's 
experience  was  probably  that  of  mission-teachers  in  other 
parts  of  Canada.  On  Sundays  her  schoolhouse  was  filled 
to  overflowing,  many  of  her  congregation  coming  five  or  six 
miles  to  get  to  the  meeting.  The  Bible  was  read  with  eager- 
ness by  those  whose  ignorance  required  prompting  at  every 
word.  The  oppression  of  past  years  was  forgotten,  for  the 
hour,  in  the  pleasure  of  learning  to  read  the  Word  of  God. 
An  aged  couple,  past  eighty,  were  among  the  most  regular 
attendants.^  The  spread  of  the  earnest  desire  for  knowledge 
shown  in  these  meetings  would  suffice  to  explain  an  observa- 
tion made  by  Dr.  Howe  in  1863  to  the  effect  that  a  surpris- 
ingly large  number  could  then  read  and  write. ^ 

An  agency  illustrative  of  the  refugees'  desire  for  self-im- 
provement was  the  association  made  up  of  local  societies 
called  "  True  Bands."  The  first  of  these  clubs  was  organized 
at  Amherstburg  or  Maiden  in  September,  1854,  and  in  less 
than  two  years  there  were  fourteen  such  societies  in  various 
parts  of  Canada  West.  The  total  membership  of  the  associa- 
tion is  not  known,  but  the  True  Band  of  Maiden  comprised 
six  hundred  persons,  and  that  of  Chatham,  on  the  first  en- 
rolment, three  hundred  and  seventy-five.  Persons  of  both 
sexes  were  admitted  to  membership,  and  a  small  monthly 
payment  was  required.  The  objects  of  the  association  were 
comprehensive ;  they  included  the  improvement  of  the 
schools,  the  increase  of  the  school  attendance  among  the 
colored  people,  the  abatement  of  race  prejudice,  the  arbitra- 
tion of  disputes  between  colored  persons,  the  employment  of 
a  fund  for  aiding  destitute  persons  just  arriving  from  slavery, 
the  suppression  of  begging  in  behalf  of  refugees  by  self-ap- 
pointed agents,  and  so  forth.  The  True  Band  at  Maiden  did 
much  good  work  ;  and  in  all  other  places  where  the  societies 

1  First  Annual  Meport  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Society  of  Canada,  p.  16. 

2  A  Woman's  Life  Work,  pp.  192,  193. 

5  The  Befugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  p.  77. 


were  formed  it  is  reported  that  excellent  results  were  secured. 
These  clubs  demonstrated  their  ability  by  concerted  action 
to  care  for  numerous  strangers  as  they  arrived  in  Canada 
after  their  long  pilgrimage.^ 

Another  object  of  the  True  Band  association  was  to  pre- 
vent divisions  in  the  church,  and  as  far  as  possible  to  heal 
those  that  had  already  occurred.  This  provision  was  appar- 
ently intended  to  serve  as  a  check  on  the  disposition  of  the 
refugees  to  multiply  churches.  "  Whenever  there  are  a  few 
families  gathered  together,"  wrote  one  observer,  "  they  split 
up  into  various  sects  and  each  sect  must  have  a  meeting-house 
of  its  own.  .  .  .  Their  ministers  have  canvassed  the  United 
States  and  England,  contribution-box  in  hand  ;  and  by  ap- 
pealing to  sectarian  zeal,  got  the  means  of  building  up  taber- 
nacles of  brick  and  wood,  trusting  to  their  own  zeal  for 
gathering  a  congregation.  .  .  ."^  This  eagerness  to  build 
churches  has  been  criticised  as  consuming  much  of  the  time 
and  substance  of  the  exiles,  and  causing  division  where  union 
was  desirable.  But  if  this  side  of  the  religious  life  and  activ- 
ities of  the  refugees  calls  for  condemnation,  another  side, 
which  was  fostered  by  the  new  conditions,  was  the  more 
marked  manifestation  of  the  religious  nature  of  the  blacks  in 
what  has  been  well  called  in  contrast  with  their  emotionalism 
the  higher  forms  of  conscience,  morality  and  good  works. ^ 

The  minds  of  many  of  the  Canadian  exiles  were  ever  going 
back  to  the  friends  and  loved  ones  they  had  left  behind  them 
on  the  plantations  of  the  South.  Each  new  band  of  pilgrims 
as  it  came  ashore  at  some  Canadian  port  was  scanned  by  little 
groups  of  negroes  eagerly  looking  for  familiar  faces.  Strange 
and  solemn  reunions  after  years  of  separation  and  of  hardship 
took  place  along  the  friendly  shores  of  Canada.  But  the 
fugitive  that  was  safe  in  the  promised  land  was  anxious  to 
assist  fortune,  and  as  soon  as  he  had  learned  to  write  or  could 
find  an  acquaintance  to  write  for  him,  was  likely  to  send  a 
letter  to  some  trusted  agent  of  the  Underground  Railroad 
for  advice  or  assistance  in  an  attempt  to  release  some  slave 

1  Drew,  A  North-Side  View  of  Slavery,  pp.  236,  237. 

2  Howe,  The  Refugees  from  Slavery  in,  Canada  West,  p.  92. 
» Ibid. 


or  family  of  slaves  from  their  thraldom.  Many,  we  know, 
took  a  more  dangerous  method  than  this,  and  went  personally 
to  seek  their  relatives  in  the  South,  and  piloted  them  safely 
back  to  English  soil ;  but  the  appeal  to  anti-slavery  friends 
in  the  States,  while  probably  less  effective,  sometimes  secured 
the  desired  results.  "William  Still,  the  chairman  of  the  Act- 
ing Vigilance  Committee  of  Philadelphia,  —  a  position  that 
brought  him  in  contact  with  hundreds  of  escaped  slaves  as 
they  were  being  sent  beyond  our  northern  frontier,  —  was 
the  recipient  of  numerous  letters  entreating  his  aid  for  the 
deliverance  of  the  kinsmen  of  refugees.^ 

Fugitive  slaves  were  admitted  to  citizenship  in  the  prov- 
inces on  the  same  terms  as  other  immigrants.  Many  of  them 
became  property  owners  in  the  course  of  time,  paid  their 
allotted  share  of  the  taxes,  and  thus  gained  the  franchise ; 
Dr.  Howe  examined  the  records  of  several  towns  in  1862 
and  made  comparisons  of  the  amount  of  taxable  property 
owned  by  whites  and  blacks.  According  to  his  state- 
ment the  proportion  of  white  rate  or  tax  payers  to  the 
white  population  of  Maiden  was  in  the  ratio  of  one  to 
three  and  one-third ;  that  of  the  colored  ratepayers  of 
the  town  to  the  colored  population,  one  to  eleven.  The 
average  amount  paid  by  the  whites  was  19.52,  while  that 
paid  by  the  blacks  was  f5.12.  In  Chatham  the  white  rate- 
payers were  "  about  one  to  every  three  and  one-half  of 
the  white  population,  and  the  colored  about  one  to  every 
thirteen  of  the  colored  population."  The  average  tax  paid 
by  white  and  black  was  $10.63  and  $4.98  respectively.  At 
Windsor  it  appears  that  the  proportion  of  ratepayers  among 
the  whites  was  as  one  to  seven  and  one-fourth,  and  among 
the  blacks  it  was  as  one  to  five.  Here  the  per  capita  average 
was  118.76  for  the  former,  and  $4.18  for  the  latter.^  These 
towns,  it  is  to  be  noted,  were  not  colonies  ;  and  in  them  the 
fugitives  were  offered  no  peculiar  inducements  to  become 
the  owners  of  property.  All  things  considered,  the  showing 
is  highly  creditable  for  the  negroes. 

1  Still,  Underground  Bailroad  Records,  2d  ed.,  pp.  59,  65,  105,  137,  193, 
249,  263,  291,  293,  337,  385,  448,  490. 

*  The  Refugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  61,  62. 


The  fact  that  they  had  been  slaves  did  not  debar  the  ref- 
ugees from  the  exercise  of  whatever  political  rights  they 
had  acquired.  The  negro  voters  used  their  privilege  freely 
in  common  with  the  native  citizens,  allying  themselves  with 
the  two  regular  parties  of  Canada,  the  Conservative  and  the 
Reform.^  In  some  communities  negroes  were  elected  to 
office.  The  Rev.  WiUiam  King,  head  of  the  Buxton  Set- 
tlement, has  mentioned  the  offices  of  pathmasters,  school 
trustees,  and  councillors  as  those  to  which  colored  men  were 
chosen  within  his  knowledge.  These,  he  said,  were  as  high 
as  the  negro  had  then  attained,  and  he  thought  that  white 
men  would  refuse  to  vote  for  a  black  running  for  Par- 
Uament.2  Dr.  J.  Wilson  Moore,  a  friend  of  the  refugees, 
said  of  them  in  1858  that  their  standing  was  fair,  and  that 
the  laws  of  the  land  made  no  distinction.  He  observed  that 
they  did  jury  duty  with  their  white  neighbors,  and  served  as 
school  directors  and  road  commissioners.  On  the  whole,  he 
thought,  they  were  as  much  respected  as  their  intelligence 
and  virtue  entitled  them  to  be.^ 

In  view  of  the  remarkable  progress  made  by  the  refugees 
and  of  their  general  serviceableness  as  settlers  in  the  prov- 
inces, it  is  easy  to  understand  why  the  Canadian  govern- 
ment maintained  its  favorable  attitude  towards  them  to  the 
end  of  the  long  period  of  immigration.  In  1859  the  Governor- 
General  testified  to  the  favorable  opinion  the  central  govern- 
ment entertained  of  the  fugitives  as  settlers  and  citizens  by 
assuring  the  Rev.  W.  M.  Mitchell  that  "  We  can  stUl  afford 
them  homes  in  our  dominions  "  ;  and  the  Parliament  of  On- 
tario manifested  its  interest  in  their  continued  welfare  by 
voting  to  incorporate  the  Association  for  the  Education  and 
Elevation  of  the  Colored  People  of  Canada  upon  the  showing 
that  the  association  would  thereby  be  enabled  to  extend  its 
philanthropic  labors  among  the  blacks.*  The  Canadian 
authorities  seem  to  have  become  established  in  the  view 
reached  after  a  candid  and  prolonged  investigation  by  Dr. 

1  Still,  Underground  Bailroad  Mecords,  p.  xxvii. 

'  Howe,  Hie  Befugees  from,  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  Appendix,  p.  108. 

•  Still,  Underground  Bailroad  Becords,  p.  xvii.  , 

*  Mitchell,  The  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  155,  156.  ' 



Howe,  that  the  refugees  "promote  the  industrial  and 
material  interests  of  the  country  and  are  valuable  citi- 

1  The  Sefugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  p.  102.  William  Still,  who 
made  a  trip  through  Canada  West  in  1855,  expressed  a  view  similar  to  that 
above  quoted,  and  added  the  words:  "To  say  that  there  are  not  those 
amongst  the  colored  people  in  Canada,  as  every  place,  who  are  very  poor, 
.  .  .  who  will  commit  crime,  who  indulge  in  habits  of  indolence  and  intem- 
perance, .  .  .  would  be  far  from  the  truth.  Nevertheless,  may  not  the  same 
be  said  of  white  people,  even  where  they  have  had  the  best  chances  in  every 
particular  1 "     Underground  Railroad  Becords,  p.  xxviii. 

CUlKCtl     t*t      THE     FIOITITB      81.  AYKS     IHBUSTOS 

This  church  once  stood  near  the  house  of  Lewis  Hayden,  (i6  Phillips  Street, 
Boston,  Massachusetts. 

(From  an  old  engraving.) 



There  were  many  fugitives  from  bondage  that  did  not 
avaU  themselves  of  the  protection  afforded  by  the  proximity 
of  Canadian  soil.  For  various  reasons  these  persons  remained 
within  the  borders  of  the  free  states ;  some  were  drawn  by 
the  af&nities  of  race  to  seek  permanent  homes  in  communities 
of  colored  people ;  some,  keeping  the  stories  of  their  past 
lives  hidden,  found  employment  as  well  as  oblivion  among 
the  crowds  in  cities  and  towns ;  some,  choosing  localities 
more  or  less  remote  from  large  centres  of  population,  settled 
where  the  presence  of  Quakers,  Wesleyan  Methodists,  Cove- 
nanters or  Free  Presbyterians  gave  them  the  assurance  of 
safety  and  assistance ;  and  some,  after  a  severe  experience  of 
pioneer  life  in  the  woods  of  Canada,  preferred  to  run  their 
chances  on  the  southern  shores  of  the  lakes,  where  it  was 
easier  to  gain  a  livelihood,  and  whence  escape  could  be  made 
across  the  line  at  the  first  intimation  of  danger. 

As  one  would  suppose,  it  is  impossible  to  determine  with 
any  accuracy  how  many  fugitive  settlers  there  were  in  the 
North  at  any  particular  time.  Estimates  both  local  and 
general  in  character  have  come  down  to  us,  and,  naturally 
enough,  one  is  inclined  to  attach  greater  value  to  the  former 
than  to  the  latter,  on  the  score  of  probable  correctness,  but 
here  the  investigator  is  met  by  the  extreme  paucity  of  ex- 
amples, which,  as  it  happens,  are  confined  to  two  towns  in 
eastern  Massachusetts,  namely,  Boston  and  New  Bedford. 
In  October,  1850,  the  Rev.  Theodore  Parker  stated  publicly 
that  there  were  in  Boston  from  four  hundred  to  six  hun- 
dred fugitives.^  Concerning  the  refugee  population  of  New 
Bedford  our  information  is  much  less  definite,   for  it  is 

1  Chronotype,  Oct.  7,  1850. 


reported  that  in  that  place  there  were  between  six  hundred 
and  seven  hundred  colored  citizens,  many  of  whom  were 
fugitives.^  Neyertheless  one  cannot  doubt  that  the  repre- 
sentatives of  this  class  were  numerous  and  widely  scattered 
throughout  the  whole  territory  of  the  free  zone,  for  refer- 
ence is  made  by  many  surviving  abolitionists  not  only  to 
individual  refugees  or  single  families  of  refugees  that  dwelt 
in  their  neighborhood,  but  even  to  settlements  a  considerable 
part  of  whose  people  were  runaway  slaves.  Where  condi- 
tions were  peculiarly  favorable  it  was  not  an  unknown  thing 
for  runaways  to  conclude  their  journeys  when  scarcely  more 
than  within  the  borders  of  free  territory.  The  Rev.  Thomas 
C.  Oliver,  of  Windsor,  Canada,  is  authority  for  the  state- 
ment that  fugitive  settlers  swarmed  among  their  Quaker 
protectors  at  Greenwich,  New  Jersey,  on  the  very  edge  of 
a  slave  state. ^  In  communities  situated  at  greater  distance 
from  the  sectional  line,  like  Columbus^  and  Akron,*  Ohio, 
Elmira^  and  Buffalo,^  New  York,  and  Detroit,  Michigan, 
many  fugitives  are  known  to  have  lived.  The  Rev.  Calvin 
Fairbank  relates  that,  while  visiting  Detroit  in  1849,  he  dis- 
covered several  families  he  had  helped  from  slavery  living 
near  the  city.  He  went  to  see  these  families,  and  afterward 
wrote  concerning  them :  "  Living  near  the  Johnsons,  and 
like  them  contented  and  comfortable,  I  found  the  Stewart 
and  Coleman  families,  for  whom  I  had  also  lighted  the  path 
of  freedom."^  In  the  vicinity  of  Sandy  Lake,  in  the  north- 
western part  of  Pennsylvania,  there  was  a  colony  of  colored 
people,  most  of  whom  were  runaway  slaves.^ 

Such  evidence,  which  is  local  in  its  nature,  should  be  con- 
sidered in  conjunction  with  the  general  estimates  of  those 
persons  that  expressed  opinions  after  wide  observation  in 
regard  to  the  whole  number  of  fugitive  settlers  in  the  North. 

1  Clipping  from  the  Commonwealth,  preserved  in  a  scrap-book  relating  to 
Theodore  Parker,  Boston  Public  Library. 

2  Conversation  with  Mr.  Oliver,  Windsor,  Ont.,  Aug.  2,  1895. 

'  Conversation  with  the  Rev.  James  Poindexter,  Columbus,  O.,  summer 
of  1895.  *  History  of  Summit  County,  Ohio,  pp.  579,  580. 

^  Letters  of  Mrs.  Susan  L.  Crane,  Elmira,  N.Y. 

6  See  p.  250,  this  chapter.  '  The  Chicago  Tribune,  Jan.  29,  1893. 

8  Letter  of  John  F.  Hogue,  Greenville,  Pa.,  Nov.  25,  1895. 


The  most  indefinite  of  these  contemporary  opinions  is  that 
of  the  veteran  underground  helper,  Samuel  J.  May,  who 
states  that  "hundreds  ventured  to  remain  this  side  of  the 
Lakes."  ^  Other  judges  attempt  to  put  their  estimates  into 
figures ;  thus,  Henry  "Wilson  thinks  that  by  1850  twenty 
thousand  had  found  homes  in  the  free  states ;  ^  Mr.  Franklin 
B.  Sanborn,  admitting  the  inherent  difficulty  of  the  calcula- 
tion, places  the  number  at  from  twenty-five  thousand  to  fifty 
thousand;  ^  and  the  Canadian  refugee,  Josiah  Henson,  wrote 
in  1852  :  "  It  is  estimated  that  the  number  of  fugitive  slaves 
in  the  various  free  states  .  .  .  amounts  to  50,000."* 

Fugitives  that  thus  dwelt  in  the  Northern  states  for  a 
longer  or  shorter  period  did  so  at  their  own  risk,  and  in 
general  against  the  advice  of  their  helpers.  Their  reliance 
for  safety  was  altogether  upon  their  own  wariness  and  the 
public  sentiment  of  the  communities  where  they  lived,  and 
until  slavery  perished  in  the  Civil  War  they  were  subjected 
to  the  fear  of  surprise  and  seizure'^  The  Southern  people 
apparently  regarded  their  right  to  recover  their  escaped 
slaves  as  unquestionable  as  their  right  to  reclaim  their 
strayed  cattle,  and  they  were  determined  to  have  the  former 
as  freely  and  fully  recognized  in  the  North  as  the  latter ;  ^ 
and  it  might  be  added  that  there  were  not  a  few  people  in  the 
North  quite  willing  to  admit  the  slaveholder's  right  freely 
to  reclaim  his  human  property,  and  to  aid  him  in  doing  so. 
What  the  sentiment  was  that  prevailed  in  the  North  during 
the  twenties  and  thirties  of  the  present  century  is  evidenced 
in  certain  laws  enacted  by  the  legislatures  of  some  of  the 
states  in  line  with  the  Federal  Slave  Law  of  1793.  Thus,  in 
an  act  passed  by  the  assembly  of  Pennsylvania,  March  25, 
1826,  provision  was  made  for  the  issuance  by  courts  of 
record   of    the   commonwealth   of    certificates   or  warrants 

^  Some  Secollections  of  our  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  p.  297. 

=  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  II,  p.  304  ;  see  also  E.  B. 
Andrews'  History  of  the  United  States,  Vol.  II,  p.  .36. 

'Conversation  with  Mr.  Sanborn,  Cambridge,  Mass.,  March,  1897. 

*  The  Life  of  Josiah  Benson,  formerly  a  Slave,  as  narrated  by  Himself, 
p.  97. 

'James  H.  Fairchild,  The  Underground  Railroad,  Tract  No.  87,  in 
Vol.  rv,  Western  Reserve  Historical  Society,  p.  106. 


of  removal  for  negroes  or  mulattoes,  claimed  to  be  fugi- 
tives from  labor ;  ^  and  in  a  law  enacted  by  the  legislature 
of  Ohio,  February  26,  1839,  it  was  provided  that  any  justice 
of  the  peace,  judge  of  a  court  of  record,  or  mayor  should 
authorize  the  arrest  of  a  person  claimed  as  a  fugitive  slave 
on  the  affidavit  of  the  claimant  or  his  agent,  and  that  the 
judge  of  a  court  of  record  before  whom  the  fugitive  was 
brought  should  grant  a  certificate  of  removal  upon  the 
presentation  of  satisfactory  proof.^ 

Among  those  that  paid  homage  to  such  laws  as  these,  and 
thus  made  the  North  an  unsafe  refuge  for  slaves,  were  to  be 
found  representatives  of  all  classes  of  society.  Samuel  J. 
May  opens  to  view  the  convictions  of  some  of  the  most 
cultured  people  of  his  day  by  the  following  incidents  related 
concerning  two  well-known  New  England  clergymen.  "  The 
excellent  Dr.  E.  S.  Gannett,  of  Boston,  was  heard  to  say, 
more  than  once,  very  emphatically,  and  to  justify  it,  '  that 
he  should  feel  it  to  be  his  duty  to  turn  away  from  his  door 
a  fugitive  slave,  —  unfed,  unaided  in  any  way,  rather  than 
set  at  naught  the  law  of  the  land.' 

"  And  Rev.  Dr.  Dewey,  whom  we  accounted  one  of  the 
ablest  expounders  and  most  eloquent  defenders  of  our  Uni- 
tarian faith,  —  Dr.  Dewey  was  reported  to  have  said  at  two 
different  times,  in  public  lectures  or  speeches  during  the 
fall  of  1850  and  the  winter  of  1851,  that  '  he  would  send  his 
mother  into  slavery,  rather  than  endanger  the  Union,  by  re- 
sisting this  law  enacted  by  the  constituted  government  of 
the  nation.'  He  has  often  denied  that  he  spoke  thus  of  his 
'maternal  relative,'  and  therefore  I  allow  that  he  was  misun- 
derstood. But  he  has  repeatedly  acknowledged  that  he  did 
say,  '  I  would  consent  that  my  own  brother,  my  own  son, 
should  go,  ten  times  rather  would  I  go  myself  into  slavery, 
than  that  this  Union  should  be  sacrificed.'  "  ^  After  the 
occurrence  of  the  famous  Jerry  rescue  at  Syracuse,  October 
1,  1851,  many  newspapers  representing  both  political  parties 

1  G.  M.  Stroud,  A  Sketch  of  the  Laws  Belating  to  Slavery,  2d  ed.,  1856, 
pp.  281,  282. 

'  Statutes  of  the  State  of  Ohio,  1841,  collated  by  J.  R.  Swan,  pp.  595-600. 
'  Some  BecoUections  of  our  Anti-SlavetT/  Conflict,  p.  367. 


emphatically  condemned  the  successful  resistance  made  to 
the  law  by  the  abolitionists  as  "  a  disgraceful,  demoralizing 
and  alarming  act."  ^ 

There  were  not  wanting  in  almost  every  community  mem- 
bers of  the  shiftless  class  of  society  that  were  always  ready 
to  obstruct  the  passage  of  fugitive  slaves  to  the  North,  and 
whose  most  vigorous  exercise  was  taken  in  the  course  of 
some  slave-hunting  adventure.  The  Rev.  W.  M.  Mitchell, 
who  had  had  this  class  to  contend  with  in  the  performance 
of  his  underground  work  during  a  number  of  years  in  Ohio, 
characterized  it  in  a  description,  penned  in  1860,  in  which 
he  sets  forth  one  of  the  conditions  that  made  the  Northern 
states  an  unsafe  refuge  for  self -liberated  negroes.  "The 
progress  of  the  Slave,"  he  wrote,  "  is  very  much  impeded  by 
a  class  of  men  in  the  Northern  States  who  are  too  lazy  to 
work  at  respectable  occupations  to  obtain  an  honest  living, 
but  prefer  to  obtain  it,  if  possible,  whether  honestly  or  dis- 
honestly, by  tracking  runaway  slaves.  On  seeing  advertise- 
ments in  the  newspapers  of  escaped  slaves,  with  rewards 
offered,  they,  armed  to  the  teeth,  saunter  in  and  through 
Abolition  Communities  or  towns,  where  they  are  likely  to 
find  the  object  of  their  pursuit.  They  sometimes  watch  the 
houses  of  known  Abolitionists.  .  .  .  We  are  hereby  warned, 
and  for  our  own  safety  and  that  of  the  Slave,  we  act  with 
excessive  caution.  The  first  discoverer  of  these  bloody 
rebels  communicates  their  presence  to  others  of  our  com- 
pany, that  the  entire  band  in  that  locality  is  put  on  their 
guard.  If  the  slave  has  not  reached  us,  we  are  on  the  look- 
out, with  greater  anxiety  than  the  hunters,  for  the  fugitive, 
to  prevent  his  falling  into  the  possession  of  those  demons 
in  human  shape.  On  the  other  hand  should  the  Slave  be  so 
fortunate  as  to  be  in  our  possession  at  the  time,  we  are  com- 
pelled to  keep  very  quiet,  until  the  hunter  loses  all  hopes  of 
finding  him,  therefore  gives  up  the  search  as  a  bad  job,  or 

1  Some  Recollections  of  Our  Anti- Slavery  Conflict,  p.  380.  The  newspa- 
pers named  by  Mr.  May  are,  The  Advertiser  and  The  American  of  Rochester, 
The  Gazette  and  Observer  of  Utica,  The  Oneida  Whig,  The  Begister,  The 
Argus  and  The  Express  of  Albany,  The  Courier  and  Inquirer  and  The 
Express  of  New  York. 


moves  on  to  another  Abolition  Community,  which  gives  us 
an  opportunity  of  removing  the  Fugitive  further  from  danger, 
or  sending  him  towards  the  North  Star.  .   .   ."^ 

It  is  not  to  be  supposed,  of  course,  that  the  business  of 
slave-hunting  was  carried  on  mainly  by  the  persons  here 
described  in  such  uncomplimentary  terms.  Persons  of  this 
type  contented  themselves  generally,  no  doubt,  with  acting  as 
spies  and  informers,  and  rarely  engaged  in  the  excitement  of 
a  slave-hunt  except  as  the  aids  of  Southern  planters  or  their 
agents.  If  it  is  true  that  there  was  a  sentiment  averse  to  sla- 
very prevailing  through  many  years  in  the  North,  it  is  also  true 
that  the  residents  of  the  free  states  for  the  most  part  con- 
ceded the  right  of  Southerners  to  pursue  and  recover  their 
fugitives  without  hindrance  from  their  Northern  neighbors. 
The  free  states  thus  became  what  the  abolitionists  called 
the  "  hunting-ground  "  of  the  South,  and  as  early  as  1830  or 
1835  the  pursuit  of  slaves  began  to  attract  wide  attention. 
During  the  years  following  many  localities,  especially  in  the 
middle  states,  were  visited  from  time  to  time  by  parties  on 
the  trail  of  the  fleeing  bondman,  or  seeking  out  the  secluded 
home  of  some  self-freed  slave  ;  and  after  the  enactment  of 
the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850  Southerners  became  more 
energetic  than  before  in  pushing  the  search  for  their  escaped 
chattels.  It  has  been  recorded  that  "more  than  two  hundred 
arrests  of  persons  claimed  as  fugitives  were  made  from  the 
[  time  of  the  passage  of  the  Bill  to  the  middle  of  1856.  About 
a  dozen  of  these  were  free  persons,  who  succeeded  in  estab- 
lishing the  claim  that  they  never  had  been  slaves  ;  other 
persons,  equally  free,  were  carried  off.  Half  a  dozen  rescues 
were  made,  and  the  rest  of  these  cases  were  delivered  to  their 
owners.  These  arrests  took  place  more  frequently  in  Penn- 
sylvania than  in  any  other  Northern  state.  Many  fugitives 
were  caught  and  carried  back,  of  whom  we  have  no  accounts, 
save  that  they  were  seen  on  the  deck  of  some  river  steamboat, 
in  the  custody  of  their  owners,  without  even  passing  through 
the  formality  of  appearing  before  a  commissioner.  About  two- 
thirds  of  the  persons  arrested  as  above  had  trials.  When  the 
arrests  to  the  number  of  two  hundred,  at  least,  can  be  traced, 

1  The  Underground  Bailroad,  pp.  13, 14. 

EFFECT  OF  THE  FUGITIVE   SLAVE  LAW  OF   1850      241 

and  their  dates  fixed,  during  six  years,  we  may  suppose  that 
the  Bill  was  not,  as  some  politicians  averred,  practically  of 
little  consequence."^ 

Concerniug  the  efficiency  of  the  new  law  there  is  a  differ- 
ence of  opinion  among  the  contemporary  writers  that  com- 
mented upon  it ;  but  there  could  be  no  disagreement  as  to 
the  distress  into  which  it  plunged  some  of  the  refugees  long 
resident  in  the  free  states.  In  not  a  few  instances  these 
persons  had  married,  acquired  homes,  and  were  rearing  their 
families  in  peace  and  happiness.  Under  the  Fugitive  Slave 
Act  some  of  these  settlers  were  seized  upon  the  affidavit 
of  their  former  owners,  and  with  the  sanction  of  the  federal 
authority  were  carried  back  into  slavery.  Among  the  many 
cases  that  might  be  cited  the  following  will  serve  to  illus- 
trate the  misfortunes  ever  ready  to  be  precipitated  upon 
fugitive  settlers  in  the  Northern  states.  In  1851  John 
Bolding,  claimed  as  the  property  of  a  citizen  of  Columbia, 
South  Carolina,  was  arrested  in  Poughkeepsie,  New  York, 
and  taken  back  to  the  South.  Bolding  was  a  young  man 
of  good  character,  recently  married,  and  the  possessor  of 
a  small  tailor  shop  in  Poughkeepsie.^  In  August,  1853, 
George  Washington  McQuerry,of  Cincinnati,  was  remanded 
to  slavery  in  Kentucky.  He  had  lived  several  years  in  Ohio, 
had  married  a  free  woman,  and  they  had  three  children.^ 
In  September,  1853,  a  family  of  colored  persons  at  Union- 
town,  Pennsylvania,  were  claimed  as  slaves  by  a  Virginian. 
Their  statement  that  they  had  been  permitted  by  their  mas- 
ter to  visit  friends  in  Fayette  County  did  not  prevent  their 
immediate  restoration  to  him.*  In  May,  1857,  Addison  White, 
a  runaway  from  Kentucky,  was  found  living  near  Mechan- 
icsburg,  Ohio,  where  he  had  been  at  work  about  six  months 
earning  means  to  send  for  his  wife  and  children.  Some  of 
the  abolitionists  of  the  neighborhood  prevented  his  reclama- 
tion.^ In  three  of  these  cases  at  least  the  reenslavement  of 
the  refugees  was  prevented  by  an  abolition  sentiment  locally 

1  Weiss,  Life  and  Correspondence  of  Theodore  Parker,  Vol.  II,  p.  93. 
*  The  Fugitive  Slave  Law  and  Its  Victims,  by  Samuel  May,  Jr.,  1861,  p.  19. 
» Ibid.,  p.  31.     See  Appendix  B,  p.  374.  *  Ibid.,  p.  68  et  seq. 

'  See  Appendix  B,  p.  375. 


strong  enough  to  lead  to  the  purchase  of  the  slaves  from 
their  claimants  ;  but  it  is  noteworthy  that  public  opinion  in 
the  neighborhoods  where  these  runaways  lived  was  unable 
to  shield  them  from  capture. 

The  refugees  that  preferred  to  settle  in  the  Northern 
states  rather  than  in  Canada  naturally  made  homes  for 
themselves  in  anti-slavery  communities  among  tried  friends. 
Here  they  could  rest  with  some  assurance  upon  the  benevo- 
lence of  these  localities  and  feel  safe,  although  their  liberty 
was  still  in  danger.  A  slave-hunter  in  entering  such  neigh- 
borhoods was  obliged  to  move  with  great  caution;  he  was  in 
the  midst  of  strangers,  with  few  allies,  and  his  scheme  was 
likely  to  fail  if  his  presence  became  known.  Sometimes, 
when  he  was  in  the  very  act  of  leading  the  captive  back  to 
the  South  in  bonds,  he  would  find  his  progress  interrupted 
by  a  crowd,  his  authority  questioned,  his  return  to  the  office 
of  a  magistrate  insisted  upon,  and  ultimately,  perhaps,  his 
prisoner  released  by  a  procedure  more  or  less  formal.  The 
slave-hunter  that  incautiously  flourished  weapons  and  made 
threats  was  likely  to  be  arrested  and  subjected  to  such  addi- 
tional delays  and  inconveniences  as  would  render  his  under- 
taking expensive  as  well  as  vexatious.  There  can  be  no 
doubt  that  this  was  the  experience  of  many  slave-owners 
that  sought  to  recover  their  servants  in  the  free  states.  Mr. 
Clay  touched  on  this  point,  April  22,  1850,  in  presenting 
petitions  to  the  United  States  Senate  from  four  citizens  of 
Kentucky.  These  persons,  he  said,  "  state  that  each  of  them 
has  lost  a  slave.  .  .  .  That  these  slaves  have  taken  refuge 
in  the  state  of  Ohio,  and  that  it  is  in  vain  for  them  to  at- 
tempt to  recapture  them ;  that  they  cannot  go  there  and 
attempt  to  recover  their  property  without  imminent  hazard  to 
their  lives."  ^  This  statement,  reiterating  the  idea  contained 
in  the  petitions  themselves,  namely,  that  the  danger  attend- 
ing pursuit  was  great,  is  too  strong  in  reference  to  a  large 
number  of  the  abolition  communities  in  the  Northern  states, 
in  many  of  which  non-resistance  principles  were  advocated. 
At  the  same  time  it  must  be  remembered  that  the  usual 
methods  of  slave-catchers  were  not  conciliatory  to  the  people 

^  Congressional  Globe,  New  Series,  Vol,  XKII,  Part  I,  p,  793. 


among  whom  they  went,  and  that  their  bravado  sometimes 
secured  for  them  rough  treatment  at  the  hands  of  a  mob, 
especially  if  the  number  of  colored  people  present  was  large 
enough  to  warrant  their  venting  their  outraged  feelings. 

The  difficulty  of  recovering  slave  property  in  the  North 
had  been  considerable  for  some  years,  and  it  was  steadily 
growing  greater.  The  uncertainty  of  reclamation  in  the 
large  number  of  cases  made  the  whole  business  unprofitable 
and  undesirable  for  slave-owners.  A  writer  in  the  North 
American  Review  for  July,  1850,  says,  "  Though  thousands  of 
slaves  have  escaped  by  crossing  the  Ohio  River,  or  Mason 
and  Dixon's  line,  during  the  last  five  years,  no  attempt  has 
been  made  to  reclaim  them  in  more  than  one  case  out  of  a 
thousand."  ^  If  one  takes  this  statement  as  meant  to  con- 
vey merely  the  idea  that  the  number  of  pursuits  was  ex- 
tremely small  in  proportion  to  the  number  of  escapes  there 
will  be  no  difficulty  in  accepting  it,  for  probably  this  was  the 
fact  down  to  1850  ;  and  the  explanation  of  it,  so  far  as  can 
be  gathered  from  the  lips  of  Southern  men,  is  to  be  found 
in  the  strong  probability  of  failure  in  undertaking  these 
costly  enterprises.  Thus  Mr.  Mason,  of  Virginia,  in  his 
argument  in  favor  of  a  new  fugitive  slave  law,  declared  that, 
imder  the  existing  conditions,  "  you  may  as  well  go  down 
into  the  sea  and  endeavor  to  recover  from  his  native  element  a 
fish  which  has  escaped  from  you,  as  expect  to  recover  a  .  .  . 
fugitive.  Every  difficulty  is  throvra  in  your  way  by  the 
population.  .  .  .  There  are  armed  mobs,  rescues.  This  is 
the  real  state  of  things."^ 

^The  law  of  1850  was  intended  to  remove  the  occasion  for 
such  complaints  on  the  part  of  slaveholders,  and  secure 
them  in  the  recovery  and  possession  of  their  property.  The 
effect  of  its  provisions  upon  the  South  was  to  arouse  slave- 
owners to  greater  activity  in  the  pursuit  of  their  chattels, 
while  in  the  North  the  effect  was  to  increase  greatly  the 
determination  in  the  minds  of  many  to  resist  the  enforce- 
ment of  the  law.     Despite  the  severe  penalties  it  levelled 

1 F.  Bowen  on  "  Extradition  of  Fugitive  Slaves,"  Vol.  LXXI,  p.  252  et  seq. 
2  Congressional  Globe,  Thirty-first  Congress,  First  Session,  p.  1583  ;  also 
M.  6.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  31. 


against  those  that  should  be  guilty  of  shielding  the  refugee, 
the  expression  of  sympathy  for  fugitive  settlers  was  open 
and  hearty  in  many  quarters ;  and  public  meetings  were  held 
by  abolitionists  to  proclaim  defiance  to  the  law  and  protection 
to  the  fugitive.  At  Lowell,  Massachusetts,  an  immense  Free 
Soil  meeting  adopted  resolutions  inviting  former  residents 
of  the  city  to  return  from  Canada,  where  they  had  taken 
refuge ;  ^  at  Syracuse,  New  York,  a  gathering  of  all  parties  de- 
clared its  abhorrence  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law,  and  formed 
an  association  or  vigilance  committee  "  so  that  the  Southern 
oppressors  may  know  that  the  people  of  Syracuse  and  its 
vicinity  are  prepared  to  sustain  one  another  in  resisting  the 
encroachments  of  despotism  ";2  at  Boston  an  indignation 
meeting  was  held  "  for  the  denunciation  of  the  law  and  the 
expression  of  sympathy  and  cooperation  with  the  fugitive." 
Among  the  resolutions  adopted  at  this  meeting,  one  advised 
"  the  fugitive  slaves  and  colored  inhabitants  of  Boston  and 
the  neighborhood  to  remain  with  us,  for  we  have  not  the 
smallest  fear  that  any  one  of  them  will  be  taken  from  us 
and  carried  off  to  bondage ;  and  we  trust  that  such  as  have 
fled  in  fear  will  return  to  their  business  and  homes " ; 
another  resolution  proposed  the  appointment  of  a  vigilance 
committee  "to  secure  the  fugitives  and  colored  inhabitants 
of  Boston  and  vicinity  from  any  invasion  of  their  rights 
by  persons  acting  under  the  law."  ^  In  Ashtabula  County, 
Ohio,  a  meeting  at  Hartsgrove  resolved,  "  that  we  hold  the 
Fugitive  Slave  Law  in  utter  contempt  .  .  .  and  that  we  will 
not  aid  in  catching  the  fugitive,  but  will  feed  him,  and  pro- 
tect him  with  all  the  means  in  our  power,  and  that  we  will 
pledge  our  sympathy  and  property  for  the  relief  of  any  per- 
son in  our  midst  who  may  suffer  any  penalties  for  an  honor- 
able opposition  ...  to  the  requirements  of  this  law."  *  In 
other  portions  also  of  the  free  states  meetings  were  held  in 
which  the  purpose  was  avowed  to  protect  fugitive  slaves.^ 

1  Wilson,  Mise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power  in  America,  Vol.  II,  p.  306. 

2  Samuel  J.  May,  Some  Becollections  of  Our  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  p.  353. 
'  John  Weiss,  Life  and  Correspondence,  of  Theodore  Parker,  Vol.  II,  p.  94. 
*  Article  by  the  Rev.  S.  D.  Peet,  in  History  of  Ashtabula  County,  Ohio, 

pp.  33,  34. 

t  "  No  sooner  was  the  deed  done,  the  Fugitive  Slave  Act  sent  forth  to  be 


The  change  of  sentiment  in  the  North  from  passive  ac- 
quiescence in  the  law  to  active  resistance  to  it  is  best  seen, 
perhaps,  in  the  history  of  the  so-called  personal  liberty  laws. 
The  real  object  of  these  statutes  was  to  impair  the  operation 
of  the  national  Fugitive  Slave  Law,  although  their  proposed 
object  was  in  most  cases  to  prevent  the  removal  of  free 
colored  citizens  to  the  South  under  the  claim  that  they  were 
fugitive  slaves.  These  statutes  were  passed  by  the  legis- 
latures of  various  states  during  the  period  of  a  little  more 
than  thirty  years  from  1824  to  1858,  the  greater  number 
being  enacted  after  the  repeal  of  the  Missouri  Compromise 
in  1854.  The  first  two  in  the  series  were  those  enacted  by 
Indiana  and  Connecticut  in  1824  and  1838  respectively,  and 
provided  that  on  appeal  fugitives  might  have  a  trial  by  jury. 
In  1840  Vermont  and  New  York  framed  laws  granting  jury 
trial,  and  also  providing  attorneys  to  defend  fugitives.  In 
1842  the  Prigg  decision  gave  the  occasion  for  a  new  class  of 
statutes  ;  the  release  of  state  authorities  from  the  execution 
of  the  Slave  Law  by  the  opinion  handed  down  by  Justice 
Story  was  taken  advantage  of  in  Massachusetts,  Vermont, 
Pennsylvania  and  Rhode  Island,  and  the  officers  of  the  states 
were  forbidden  from  performing  the  duties  imposed  by  the 
law  of  1793.  The  decade  from  1850  to  1860  is  marked  by  a 
fresh  crop  of  these  personal  liberty  acts,  due  to  the  sentiment 
aroused  by  the  law  of  1850  and  aggravated  by  the  repeal  of 
the  Missouri  Compromise.  As  the  new  national  law  avoided 
the  employment  of  state  officers,  state  legislation  was  now 
directed  in  the  main  to  limiting  the  powers  of  the  executors 
of  the  laws  as  far  as  possible,  and  depriving  them  of  the 
facilities  of  action.  Thus,  the  new  laws  generally  provided 
counsel  for  any  one  arrested  as  a  fugitive  ;  secured  to  him  a 
trial  surrounded  by  the  usual  safeguards ;  prohibited  the  use 
of  state  jails ;  and  forbade  state  officers  to  issue  writs  or  give 
aid  to  the  claimant.     The  penalty  for  the  violation  of  these 

the  law  of  the  land,  than  outcries  of  contempt  and  defiance  came  from  every 
free  state,  and  pledges  of  protection  were  given  to  the  colored  population. 
It  is  not  within  the  scope  of  my  plan  to  attempt  an  account  of  the  indigna- 
tion meetings  that  were  held  in  places  too  numerous  to  be  even  mentioned 
here."    S.  J.  May,  Some  Becollections  of  the  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  p.  349. 


provisions  was  a  heavy  fine  and  imprisonment.  "  Sucli  acts," 
it  is  said,  "  were  passed  in  Vermont,  Connecticut  and  Rhode 
Island,  in  Massachusetts,  Michigan  and  Maine.  Later,  laws 
were  also  enacted  in  Wisconsin,  Kansas,  Ohio  and  Pennsyl- 
vania. Of  the  other  Northern  States,  two  only.  New  Jersey 
and  California,  gave  any  official  sanction  to  the  rendition  of 
fugitives.  In  New  Hampshire,  New  York,  Indiana,  Illinois, 
Iowa  and  Miiinesota,  however,  no  full  personal  liberty  laws 
were  passed."  ^ 

Notwithstanding  the  disposition  shown  in  many  parts  of 
the  free  states  to  protect  fugitive  settlers,  the  Slave  Law  of 
1850  spread  consternation  and  distress  among  them,  and 
caused  numbers  to  leave  the  little  homes  they  had  estab- 
lished for  themselves,  and  renew  their  search  for  liberty. 
Perhaps  in  no  community  of  the  North  did  fugitive  settlers 
feel  themselves  more  secure  than  in  Boston,  the  city  of 
Garrison,  Phillips  and  Parker  ;  here  they  were  gathered  to- 
gether by  the  Rev.  Leonard  B.  Grimes,  a  colored  man,  who 
soon  organized  a  church  of  fugitive  slaves,  and  such  was  the 
feeling  of  confidence  among  them  that  in  1849  a  building 
was  begun  for  this  unique  congregation.  Within  a  few 
months,  however,  the  new  Slave  Law  was  enacted,  and  wrung 
from  this  band  of  runaways  a  cry  of  anguish  that  may  be 
justly  regarded  as  expressing  the  distress  of  the  people  of 
this  class  in  all  quarters  of  the  free  states.  At  a  meeting 
of  the  Boston  refugees,  held  October  5,  1850,  an  appeal  to 
the  clergy  of  Massachusetts  was  issued,  in  the  preamble  of 
which  was  embodied  the  slaves'  view  of  their  own  situation, 
and  their  pitiful  entreaty  for  help.  As  "trembling,  pro- 
scribed and  hunted  fugitives  .  .  now  scattered  through 
the  various  towns  and  villages  of  Massachusetts,  and  mo- 
mentarily liable  to  be  seized  by  the  strong  arm  of  govern- 
ment, and  hurried  back  to  stripes,  tortures  and  bondage 
.  .  ."  they  implored  the  clergy  to  '"lift  up  (their)  voices 
like  a  trumpet'  against  the  Fugitive  Slave  Bill,  recently 
adopted  by  Congress.  .  .  ."^     The  church  building  of  the 

1 M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  pp.  65-70,  and  the  references  there  given. 
"  Scrap-book  of  clippings,  circulars,  etc.,  presented  to  the  Boston  Public 
Library  by  Mrs.  L.  D.  Parker. 


fugitive  settlers  "  was  arrested  midway  towards  its  comple- 
tion, and  the  members  were  scattered  in  wild  dismay.  More 
than  forty  fled  to  Canada.  One  of  their  number,  Shadrach, 
was  seized,  but  more  fortunate  than  the  hapless  Sims,  who 
had  no  fellowship  with  them,  he  succeeded  in  making  his 
escape."^  An  individual  case  that  illustrates  the  sudden 
disaster  experienced  by  niunerous  households  throughout  the 
North  was  recorded  by  the  Rev.  J.  S.  C.  Abbott,  in  January, 
1852.  The  case  occurred  in  Boston  in  1851  :  "  A  colored 
girl,  eighteen  years  of  age,  a  few  years  ago  escaped  from 
slavery  at  the  South.  Through  scenes  of  adventure  and 
peril  she  found  her  way  to  Boston,  obtained  employment, 
secured  friends,  and  became  a  consistent  member  of  a  Meth- 
odist church.  She  became  interested  in  a  very  worthy 
young  man,  of  her  own  complexion,  who  was  a  member  of 
the  same  chiirch.  They  were  soon  married.  Their  home, 
though  humble,  was  the  abode  of  piety  and  contentment. 
.  .  .  Seven  years  passed  away ;  they  had  two  little  boys, 
one  six  and  the  other  four  years  of  age.  These  children,  the 
sons  of  a  free  father,  but  of  a  mother  who  had  been  a  slave, 
by  the  laws  of  our  Southern  states  were  doomed  to  their 
mother's  fate.  These  Boston  boys,  born  beneath  the  shadow 
of  Faneuil  Hall,  the  sons  of  a  free  citizen  of  Boston,  and 
educated  in  the  Boston  free  schools,  were,  by  the  com- 
promises of  the  Constitution,  admitted  to  be  slaves,  the 
property  of  a  South  Carolinian  planter.  The  Boston  father 
had  no  right  to  his  own  sons.  The  law,  however,  had  long 
been  considered  a  dead  letter.  The  Christian  mother,  as  she 
morning  and  evening  bowed  with  her  children  in  prayer,  felt 
that  they  were  safe  from  the  slave-hunter,  surrounded  as 
they  were  by  the  churches,  the  schools,  and  the  free  institu- 
tions of  Massachusetts. 

"  The  Fugitive  Slave  Law  was  enacted.  It  revived  the 
hopes  of  the  slave-owners.  A  young,  healthy,  energetic 
mother,  with  two  fine  boys,  was  a  rich  prize.  .  .  .  Good 
men  began  to  say :  '  We  must  enforce  this  law  ;  it  is  one  of 
the  compromises  of  the  Constitution.'  Christian  ministers 
began  to  preach:  'The  voice  of  the  law  is  the  voice  of  God. 
1  C.  E.  Stevens,  Anthony  Burns,  A  History,  1856,  p.  208. 


There  is  no  higher  rule  of  duty.'  .  .  .  The  poor  woman 
was  panic-stricken.  Her  friends  gathered  around  her  and 
trembled  for  her.  Her  husband  was  absent  from  home,  a 
seaman  on  board  one  of  our  Liverpool  packets.  She  was 
afraid  to  get  out  of  doors  lest  some  one  from  the  South 
should  see  her  and  recognize  her.  One  day,  as  she  was 
going  to  the  grocery  for  some  provisions,  her  quick  and 
anxious  eye  caught  a  glimpse  of  a  man  prowling  around, 
whom  she  immediately  recognized  as  from  the  vicinity  of 
her  old  home  of  slavery.  Almost  fainting  with  terror,  she 
hastened  home,  and,  taking  her  two  children  by  the  hand, 
fled  to  the  house  of  a  friend.  She  and  her  trembling  chil- 
dren were  hid  in  the  garret.  In  less  than  one  hour  after  her 
escape,  the  officer  with  a  writ  came  for  her  arrest. 

"...  At  midnight,  her  friends  took  her  in  a  hack,  and 
conveyed  her,  with  her  children,  to  the  house  of  her  pastor. 
A  prayer-meeting  had  been  appointed  there,  at  that  hour,  in 
behalf  of  the  suffering  sister.  A  small  group  of  stricken 
hearts  were  assembled.  .  .  .  Groanings  and  lamentations 
filled  the  room.  No  one  could  pray.  .  .  .  Other  fugitives 
were  there,  trembling  in  view  of  a  doom  more  dreadful  to 
them  than  death.  After  an  hour  of  weeping  .  .  .  they 
took  this  Christian  mother  and  her  children  in  a  hack,  and 
conveyed  them  to  one  of  the  Cunard  steamers,  which  for- 
tunately was  to  sail  for  Halifax  the  next  day.  .  .  .  Her 
brethren  and  sisters  of  the  church  raised  a  little  money  from 
their  scanty  means  to  pay  her  passage,  and  to  save  her  for  a 
few  days  from  starving,  after  her  first  arrival  in  the  cold  land 
of  strangers.  Her  husband  soon  returned  to  Boston,  to  find 
his  home  desolate,  his  wife  and  his  children  exiles  in  a 
foreign  land. 

"  I  think  that  this  narrative  may  be  relied  upon  as  accu- 
rate. I  received  the  facts  from  the  lips  of  one,  a  member  of 
the  church,  who  was  present  at  that  midnight  'weeping- 
meeting,'  before  the  Lord.  Such  is  slavery  in  Boston,  in  the 
year  1852.     Has  the  North  nothing  to  do  with  slavery  ?  "  ^ 

1  Quoted  by  ¥.  B.  Sanborn,  in  his  Life  of  Dr.  S.  G-.  Howe,  the  Philan- 
thropist, pp.  237,  238,  239.  Similar  stories  are  related  by  Lydia  Maria  Child, 
in  her  Life  of  Isaac  T.  Hopper,  pp.  455-458. 


In  localities  nearer  to  slave  territory  than  Boston,  and  in 
places  where  anti-slavery  sentiment  was  perhaps  less  pro- 
nounced, it  may  be  supposed  that  terror  was  not  less  preva- 
lent among  fugitive  settlers.  The  members  of  the  colored 
community  near  Sandy  Lake  in  northwestern  Pennsylvania, 
many  of  whom  had  purchased  small  farms  and  had  them 
partly  paid  for,  sold  out  or  gave  away  their  farms  and 
went  to  Canada  in  a  body.^  The  sudden  disappearance  of 
refugees  from  their  habitations  in  various  other  places  as 
soon  as  the  character  of  the  new  law  became  noised  abroad 
was  a  phenomenon  the  cause  of  which  was  unmistakable. 
Of  the  many  that  thus  vanished  from  their  accustomed 
haunts,^  Josiah  Henson,  writing  in  1852,  said :  "  Some  have 
found  their  way  to  England,  but  the  mass  are  flying  to  Can- 
ada, where  they  feel  themselves  secure.  Already  several 
thousands  have  gone  thither,  and  have  added  considerably 
to  the  number  already  settled,  or  partially  settled,  in  that 
part  of  the  British  dominions.  .  .  ."^  As  Mr.  Henson  was 
a  worker  among  the  refugees  in  Canada  he  was  in  a  position 
to  speak  from  his  personal  knowledge,  and  his  testimony  is  sus- 
tained by  that  of  the  Rev.  Anthony  Bingey,  an  escaped  slave, 
who  helped  receive  fugitives  at  Amherstburg,  Ontario,  one 
of  the  chief  landing-places  of  the  negro  emigrants  from  the 
United  States.  jNIr.  Biugey  states  that  after  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  took  effect  the  runaways  came  there  "  by  fifties 
every  day,  like  frogs  in  Egypt."  Before  that  time  "many 
had  settled  in  the  States,  but  after  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law 
they  could  be  taken,  so  they  came  in  from  all  parts."  *  Sumner 
estimated  that,  altogether,  "  as  many  as  six  thousand  Chris- 
tian men  and  women,  meritorious  persons,  —  a  larger  hand 
than  that  of  the  escaping  Puritans,  —  precipitately  fled  from 
homes  which  they  had  established"  to  British  soil.  The 
Liberator  published  a  statement,  made  in  February,  1851, 

1  Letter  of  John  F.  Hogue,  Greenville,  Pa.,  Nov.  25,  1895;  letter  of  the 
Rev.  James  Lawson,  Franklin,  Pa.,  Nov.  25,  1895. 

2  Life  of  William  Lloyd  Garrison,  Vol.  IH,  p.  302.  See  also  Ehodes's 
Sistory  of  the  United  States,  Vol.  I,  p.  198. 

'  The  Life  of  Josiah  Henson,  formerly  a  Slave,  as  narrated  by  Himself, 
pp.  97,  98,  99. 

*  Conversation  with  Mr.  Bingey,  Windsor,  Ont. ,  July  31,  1896. 


that  the  African  Methodist  and  Baptist  churches  of  Buffalo, 
New  York,  had  both  lost  a  large  number  of  members,  the 
loss  of  the  former  being  given  as  one  hundred.  The  Baptist 
church  of  the  colored  people  of  Rochester,  in  the  same  state, 
out  of  a  membership  of  one  hundred  and  fourteen,  lost  one 
hundred  and  twelve,  including  the  pastor.  The  African 
Baptist  church  of  Detroit  lost  eighty-four  members  at  this 

One  must  not  imagine,  however,  that  all  the  fugitives 
migrated  beyond  the  borders  of  the  free  states.  No  doubt 
a  considerable  number,  more  daring  than  the  rest,^  or  in 
some  way  favored  by  circumstances,  chose  to  remain  and 
run  the  risk  of  discovery.  Colonel  Thomas  Wentworth  Hig- 
ginson  asserts  that  "  For  many  years  fugitive  slaves  came  to 
Massachusetts  and  remained,  this  lasting  until  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  was  passed  in  1850,  and  longer.  Even  after  that 
period  we  tried  to  keep  them  in  Worcester,  where  I  then 
lived,  it  being  a  strong  anti-slavery  place,  and  they  often 
stayed."  ^  Some  of  the  fugitives  that  were  induced  to  move 
by  the  Slave  Law  only  passed  from  one  state  into  another, 
instead  of  continuing  their  journey  to  regions  beyond  the 
jurisdiction  of  a  United  States  commissioner.  Of  a  company 
of  blacks  dwelling  near  the  home  of  Elijah  F.  Pennypacker 
in  Chester  County,  Pennsylvania,  at  the  time  of  the  enact- 
ment of  the  law  of  1850,  it  is  said  that  while  some  went  to 
Canada,  some  went  to  New  York  and  some  to  Massachu- 
setts.* It  was  noted  above  that  the  new  church  of  the  fugi- 
tives of  Boston  was  stopped  midway  in  the  process  of  building 
by  the  promulgation  of  the  act,  but  it  is  significant  that  the 
structure  was  completed  soon  after.  Evidently  not  all  of 
the  refugees  departed  from  the  city  of  their  adoption.  It  is 
related  that  "  When  the  first  fury  of  the  storm  had  blown  over, 
Mr.  Grimes  set  himself  with  redoubled  energy  to  repair  the 

1  Life  of  Garrison,  Vol.  Ill,  p.  302  ;  also  foot-note,  pp.  302,  303. 

2  ' '  Some  of  the  boldest  chose  to  remain,  and  armed  themselves  to  defend 
their  freedom,  instinctively  calculating  that  the  sight  of  such  an  exigency 
would  make  the  Northern  heart  beat  too  rapidly  for  prudence  I "  Weiss, 
Life  and  Correspondence  of  Theodore  Parker,  Vol.  II,  p.  92. 

3  Letter  of  Mr.  Higginson,  Cambridge,  Mass.,  Feb.  5,  1894. 

*  R.  C.  Smedley,  History  of  the  Underground  Railroad,  p.  210. 


wastes  that  liad  been  made.  He  collected  money  from  the 
charitable,  and  purchased  the  members  of  his  church  out  of 
slavery,  that  they  might  return  without  fear  to  the  fold. 
He  made  friends  among  the  rich,  who  advanced  funds  for 
the  completion  of  his  church.  At  length  it  was  finished, 
and,  as  if  for  an  omen  of  good,  was  dedicated  on  the  first  day 
when  Burns  stood  for  trial  before  Commissioner  Loring. "  ^ 
Runaways  entering  the  free  states  for  the  first  time  after 
the  subsidence  of  the  paroxysm  of  fear  among  their  fellows 
sometimes  remained  in  neighborhoods  where  the  conditions 
were  supposed  to  be  favorable  to  their  safety.  Some  of 
these  were  never  disturbed,  and  consequently  never  went  to 
Canada  at  all. 

Among  the  fugitive  settlers  in  the  Northern  states  there 
were  some  at  least  that  became  widely  known  among  aboli- 
tionists and  others  as  active  agents  of  the  Underground 
Railroad.  Frederick  Douglass  was  one  of  these,  and  during 
his  residence  in  New  Bedford,  Massachusetts,  and  later  dur- 
ing his  residence  in  Rochester,  New  York,  he  was  able  to  - 
help  many  runaways.  The  Rev.  J.  W.  Loguen,  who  be- 
came a  bishop  of  the  African  Methodist  Church  about  1869, 
settled  in  Syracuse,  New  York,  in  1841,  and  became  imme- 
diately one  of  the  managers  of  secret  operations  there.  In 
his  hospitable  home,  Samuel  J.  May  relates,  was  fitted  up 
an  apartment  for  fugitive  slaves,  and,''for  years  before  the 
Emancipation  Act,  scarcely  a  week  passed  without  some  one, 
in  his  flight  from  slavedom  to  Canada,  enjoyed  shelter  and 
repose  at  Elder  Loguen's."^  Lewis  Hayden,  for  many 
years  a  prominent  citizen  of  Boston,  who  owed  his  liberty 
to  the  self-sacrificing  efforts  of  the  Rev.  Calvin  Fairbank 
and  j\Iiss  Delia  Webster  in  September,  1844,^  made  a  prac- 
tice of  harboring  slaves  in  his  house,  number  66  Phillips 

1  C.  E.  Stevens,  Anthony  Burns,  A  History,  p.  208.  In  a  foot-note  it  is 
said,  "  The  chnrch  is  a  neat  and  commodious  brick  structure,  two  stories  in 
heiglit,  and  handsomely  finished  in  the  interior.  It  will  seat  five  or  six 
hundred  people.  The  whole  cost,  including  the  land,  was  $13,000,  of 
which,  through  the  exertion  of  Mr.  Grimes,  $10,000  have  already  (1866) 
been  paid.  ..." 

"  Some  Becollections  of  our  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  pp.  202,  203. 

»  Sev.  Calvin  Fairbank  During  Slavery  Times,  pp.  46,  48,  49. 


Street.  "  Some  there  are,"  a  recent  writer  declares,  "  who 
well  remember  when  William  Craft  was  in  hiding  here  from 
the  slave-catchers,  and  how  Lewis  Hayden  had  placed  two 
kegs  of  gunpowder  on  the  premises,  resolved  to  blow  up 
his  house  rather  than  surrender  the  fugitive.  The  heroic 
frenzy  of  the  resolute  black  face,  as  with  match  in  hand 
Hayden  stood  waiting  the  man-stealers,  those  who  saw  it 
declare  that  they  can  never  forget."^ 

William  Wells  Brown,  who  distinguished  himself  as  an 
anti-slavery  lecturer  in  this  country  and  England,  rendered 
considerable  service  to  fellow-fugitives  shortly  after  his 
escape  from  Missouri  about  1840.^  Securing  employment  on 
a  Lake  Erie  steamboat,  he  was  able  to  provide  the  means  of 
transportation  for  many  runaways  across  the  lake.  As  the 
boat  frequently  touched  at  Cleveland  on  its  trips  to  and  fro 
between  Buffalo  and  Detroit,  Mr.  Brown  made  an  arrange- 
ment with  some  Cleveland  friends  to  furnish  transportation, 
which  was  done  without  charge,  for  any  negroes  they  might 
wish  to  send  to  Canada.  The  result  was  that  delegations 
of  anxious  refugees  were  often  taken  aboard  at  the  Cleve- 
land wharf.  Brown  engaged  in  this  service  in  the  early 
forties,  and  his  companies  were  therefore  small,  but  he 
sometimes  gave  passage  to  four  or  five  at  one  time.  "  In 
the  year  1842,"  he  says,  "  I  conveyed,  from  the  first  of  May 
to  the  first  of  December,  sixty-nine  fugitives  over  Lake  Erie 
to  Canada.  In  1843  I  visited  Maiden,  in  upper  Canada, 
and  counted  seventeen  in  that  small  village  whom  I  had 
assisted  in  reaching  Canada."  ^  John  W.  Jones,  a  respected 
citizen  of  Elmira,  New  York,  made  his  way  in  1844  from 
Virginia  to  the  city  where  he  still  lives.  During  the  follow- 
ing year  he  succeeded  in  aiding  two  younger  brothers  to 
join  him,  and  thereafter  he  continued,  in  cooperation  with 
Mr.  Jervis  Langdon  and  other  abolitionists  of  Elmira,  to 
succor  his  brethren  in  their  search  for  places  of  refuge. 
After  the  construction  of   the  Northern  Central   Railroad 

1  Article  by  A.  H.  Grimk^,  on  "Anti-Slavery  Boston,"  in  The  New  Eng- 
land, Magazine,  December,  1890,  p.  458. 

^  S.  J.  May,  Some  HecoUections  of  our  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  p.  289. 

2  Narrative  of  William  W-  Brown,  A  Fugitive  Slave,  pp.  106,  107,  108. 


through  Elmira,  Mr.  Jones  effected  an  arrangement  with 
some  of  the  employees  of  that  road  by  which  his  friends 
could  be  carried  through  to  the  Canadian  border  in  baggage- 
cars.  At  the  same  time  he  was  in  regular  correspondence 
with  William  Still,  the  agent  of  the  central  underground 
station  at  Philadelphia,  who  frequently  sent  him  companies 
of  passengers  requiring  immediate  transportation. ^  John 
H.  Hooper,  a  fugitive  from  the  Eastern  Shore  of  Maryland 
and  an  acquaintance  there  of  Fred  Douglass,  kept  a  station 
at  Troy,  New  York,  where  he  settled.^  Louis  Washington, 
who  fled  from  Richmond,  Virginia,  to  Columbus,  Ohio,  be- 
came a  conductor  of  the  Underground  Road  at  that  point. 
Mr.  James  Poindexter,  a  well-known  colored  clergyman  of 
Columbus,  knew  Washington  intimately,  and  testifies  that 
he  had  teams  and  wagons  with  which  he  conveyed  the  mid- 
night pilgrims  on  their  way.*  There  are  other  cases  of 
fugitive  settlers  that  became  members  of  the  large  company 
of  underground  operators.  But  a  sufficient  number  have 
been  mentioned  to  indicate  that  they  were  not  rare.  The 
first  and  the  last  of  the  seven  named  did  not  continue  long 
in  the  status  of  escaped  slaves.  Frederick  Douglass  secured 
his  liberty  in  a  legal  way  through  the  payment  by  English 
friends  of  the  sum  of  $750  to  his  master.  Louis  Washing- 
ton purchased  his  own  freedom.  The  other  five,  so  far  as 
known,  were  never  relieved  by  the  payment  of  money  from 
the  claims  of  their  masters.  Most,  if  not  all,  of  these  men 
remained  in  the  Northern  states  after  the  passage  of  the 
Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850. 

1  Letters  of  Mrs.  Susan  Crane,  Elmira,  N.T. ;  letters  of  John  W.  Jones, 
Elmira,  N.Y. ;  see  also  StiU,  Underground  Railroad  Records,  p.  530. 

2  Letters  of  Mr.  Martin  L  Townsend,  Troy.  N.Y.,  Sept.  4,  1896,  and 
April  3,  1897. 

°  Conversation  with  Mr.  Poindexter,  Columbus,  C,  in  the  summer  of  1895. 



The  aversion  to  a  law  for  the  rendition  of  fugitive  slaves 
that  early  manifested  itself  in  the  North  was  perhaps  fore- 
shadowed in  the  hesitating  manner  in- which  the  question  was 
dealt  with  by  Congress.  The  original  demand  for  legislation 
was  caused  by  the  activity  of  kidnappers  in  Pennsylvania ;  but 
the  first  bill,  reported  from  committee  to  the  House  in  Novem- 
ber, 1791,  was  dropped  for  some  reason  not  now  discoverable. 
At  the  end  of  March  in  the  following  year  a  committee 
of  the  Senate  was  appointed  to  consider  the  matter,  but  it 
accomplished  nothing.  At  the  beginning  of  the  next  session 
a  second  Senate  committee  was  chosen,  and  from  this  body  a 
bill  emanated.  This  bill  proved  to  be  unsatisfactory,  how- 
ever, and  after  the  committee  had  been  remodelled  by  the 
addition  of  two  new  members  the  bill  was  recommitted  with 
instructions  to  amend.  With  some  slight  change  the  measure 
proposed  by  the  committee  was  adopted  by  the  Senate,  Jan- 
uary 18  ;  and  after  an  interval  of  nearly  three  weeks  the 
House  passed  it  with  little  or  no  debate,  by  a  vote  of  forty- 
eight  to  seven.  Thus  for  nearly  a  year  and  a  quarter  the 
subject  was  under  the  consideration  of  Congress  before  it 
could  be  embodied  in  a  bill  and  sent  to  the  executive  for 
his  signature.  On  February  12, 1793,  President  Washington 
signed  this  bill  and  it  became  a  law.^ 

The  object  of  the  law  was,  of  course,  to  enforce  the  consti- 
tutional guarantee  in  regard  to  the  delivery  of  fugitives  from 
service  to  their  masters.  An  analysis  of  the  law  will  show 
that  forcible  seizure  of  the  alleged  fugitive  was  authorized ; 
that  the  decision  of  the  magistrate  before  whom  he  was  to  be 
taken  was  allowed  to  turn  on  the  testimony  of  the  master,  or 

>  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  pp.  17,  18. 


<  ? 

e8  O 

^    §.2 


the  affidavit  of  some  magistrate  in  tlie  state  from  wMch  he 
came  ;  and  that  trial  by  jury  was  denied.  Persons  attempt- 
ing to  obstruct  the  law  by  harboring  or  concealing  a  fugitive 
slave,  resisting  his  arrest,  or  securiug  his  rescue,  were  liable 
to  a  fine  of  five  hundred  dollars  for  the  benefit  of  the  claimant, 
and  the  right  of  action  on  account  of  these  injuries  was 
reserved  to  the  claimant.^ 

The  exclusive  regard  for  the  rights  of  the  owner  exhibited 
in  these  provisions  was  fitted  to  stir  the  popular  sense  of 
justice  in  the  Northern  states,  most  of  which  had  already 
ranged  themselves  by  individual  action  on  the  side  of  liberty. 
Persons  moved  by  the  appeals  of  the  hunted  negro  to  trans- 
gress the  statute  would  naturally  try  to  avoid  its  penalties  by 
concealment  of  their  acts,  and  this  we  know  was  what  they 
did.  The  whole  movement  denominated  the  Underground 
Railroad  was  carried  on  in  secret,  because  only  thus  could 
the  fugitives,  in  whose  behalf  it  originated,  and  their  abettors, 
by  whom  it  was  maintained,  be  secure  from  the  law.  When 
through  mischance  or  open  resistance,  as  sonjetimes  happened, 
an  offender  against  the  law  was  discovered  and  brought  to 
trial,  the  case  was  not  allowed  to  progress  far  before  the 
Fugitive  Recovery  Act  itself  was  assailed  vigorously  by 
the  counsel  for  the  defendant.  The  grounds  of  attack  in- 
cluded the  absence  of  provision  for  jury  trial,  the  authority 
of  the  claimant  or  his  agent  to  arrest  without  a  warrant,  the 
antagonism  between  state  and  federal  legislation,  the  supposed 
repugnancy  of  the  law  of  1793  to  the  Ordinance  of  1787,  the 
denial  of  the  power  of  Congress  to  legislate  on  the  subject  of 
fugitive  slaves,  and  the  question  as  to  the  responsibility  for 
the  execution  of  the  law.  Nearly  if  not  all  of  these  disputed 
points  were  involved  in  the  great  question  as  to  the  constitu- 
tionality of  the  congressional  act,  a  question  that  kept  work- 
ing up  through  the  successive  decisions  of  the  courts  to  irritate 
and  disturb  the  peace  between  the  sections,  that  the  fugitive 
clause  in  the  federal  Constitution,  the  act  of  1793  itself,  and 
the  judicial  affirmations  f  oUowing  in  their  train  were  intended 
to  promote. 

The  omission  of  a  provision  from  the  law  of  Congress  secur- 

1  Statutes  at  Large,  1,  302-305. 


ing  trial  by  jury  to  the  alleged  fugitive  was  at  once  remarked 
by  the  friends  of  the  bondman,  and  caused  the  law  to  be  de- 
nounced in  the  court-room  as  worthy  only  of  the  severest 
condemnation.!  As  early  as  1819,  in  the  case  of  Wright  vs. 
Deacon,  tried  before  the  Supreme  Court  of  Pennsylvania,  it 
was  urged  that  the  supposed  fugitive  was  entitled  to  a  jury 
trial,  but  the  arguments  made  in  support  of  the  claim  have 
not  been  preserved.^  The  question  was  presented  in  several 
subsequent  cases  of  importance  arising  under  the  law  of  1793, 
namely,  Jack  vs.  Martin,  in  1835,^  Peter,  alias  Lewis  Martin, 
about  1837,*  and  State  vs.  Hoppess,  in  1845.^  From  the 
reports  of  these  cases  one  is  not  able  to  gather  much  in 
the  way  of  direct  statement  showing  what  were  the  grounds 

1  Professor  Eugene  Wambaugh,  of  the  Law  School  of  Harvard  University, 
in  a  letter  to  the  author,  comments  as  follows  on  the  source  of  the  injustice 
wrought  by  the  Fugitive  Slave  acts :  "  The  difficulty  lay  in  the  initial  assump- 
tion that  a  human  being  can  be  property.  Grant  this  assumption,  and  there 
follow  many  absurdities,  among  them  the  impossibility  of  framing  a  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  that  shall  be  both  logical  and  humane.  Human  beings  are  entitled 
to  a  trial  of  the  normal  sort,  especially  in  a  case  involving  the  liability  of  per- 
sonal restraint.  Chattels,  however,  are  entitled  to  no  trial  at  all ;  and  it  a 
chattel  be  lost  or  stolen,  the  owner  may  retake  it  wherever  he  finds  it,  provided 
he  commits  no  breach  of  the  peace.  (3  Blackstone's  Commentaries,  4.)  If 
slaves  had  been  treated  as  ordinary  chattels,  there  could  have  been  no  trial 
as  to  the  ownership  of  them,  unless,  indeed,  there  were  a  dispute  between 
competing  claimants.  There  would  have  been,  however,  the  fatal  objection 
that  thus  a  free  man  —  black,  mulatto,  or  white  —  might  be  enslaved  without 
a  hearing.  Here,  then,  is  a  puzzle.  If  the  man  is  a  slave,  he  is  entitled  to 
no  trial  at  all.  If  he  is  free,  he  is  entitled  to  a  trial  of  the  most  careful  sort, 
surrounded  with  all  the  safeguards  that  have  been  thrown  up  by  the  law. 
When  there  is  such  a  dilemma,  is  it  strange  that  there  should  be  a  com- 
promise ?  The  Fugitive  Slave  Laws  really  were  a  compromise ;  for  in  so  far 
as  they  provided  for  an  abnormal  and  incomplete  trial,  a  hearing  before  a 
United  States  Commissioner,  simply  to  determine  rights  as  between  the  sup- 
posed slave  and  the  supposed  master,  they  conceded  the  radical  impossibility 
of  following  out  logically  the  supposition  that  human  beings  can  be  chattels, 
and,  in  so  far  as  they  denied  to  the  supposed  slave  the  normal  trial,  they 
assumed  in  advance  that  he  was  a  slave.  I  need  not  vn-ite  of  the  dilemma 
further.  A  procedure  intermediate  between  a  formal  trial  and  a  total  denial 
of  justice  was  probably  the  only  solution  practicable  in  those  days ;  but  it 
was  an  illogical  solution,  and  the  only  logical  solution  was  emancipation." 

"  5  Sergeant  and  Bawle's  Beports,  63.     See  Appendix  B,  p.  368. 

»  14  WendeWs  Beports,  514.     See  Appendix  B,  p.  368. 

<  In  the  Circuit  Court  of  the  United  States  for  the  Southern  District  of 
New  York.     2  Fame's  Beports,  352.  *  2  Western  Law  Journal,  282. 


taken  for  the  advocacy  of  trial  by  jury  in  such  cases,  but 
the  indications  that  appear  are  not  to  be  mistaken.  In 
all  of  these  cases  it  seems  to  have  been  insisted  that  the  law 
of  1793  failed  to  conform  to  the  constitutional  requirement  on 
this  point ;  and  in  State  vs.  Hoppess  it  is  distinctly  stated 
that  the  law  provided  for  a  trial  of  the  most  important  right 
without  a  jury,  contrary  to  the  amendment  of  the  Constitu- 
tion declaring  that  "  In  suits  at  common  law,  where  the 
value  shall  exceed  twenty  dollars,  the  right  of  trial  by  jury 
shall  be  preserved  .  .  .";i  and  that  the  act  also  authorized 
the  deprivation  of  a  person  of  his  or  her  liberty  contrary  to 
another  amendment,  which  declares  that  no  person  shall  be 
"  deprived  of  life,  liberty,  or  property,  without  due  process  of 
law."^  In  Jack  vs.  Martin,  as  probably  in  the  other  cases, 
the  obvious  objection  seems  to  have  been  made  that  the  de- 
nial of  the  jury  contributed  to  make  easy  the  enslavement  of 
free  citizens.  The  courts,  however,  did  not  sustain  these 
objections  ;  thus,  for  example,  in  the  last  case  named,  Judge 
Nelson,  while  admitting  the  defect  of  the  law,  decided  in 
conformity  with  it,^  and  the  claims  upon  the  constitutional 
guarantees,  asserted  in  behalf  of  the  supposed  fugitive,  were 
also  overruled,  a  reason  given  in  the  case  of  Wright  vs.  Deacon 
being  that  the  evident  scope  and  tenor  of  both  the  Constitution 
and  the  act  of  Congress  favored  the  delivery  of  the  fugitive 
on  a  summary  proceeding  without  the  delay  of  a  formal  trial 
in  a  court  of  common  law.  Another  reason  offered  by  the 
court  in  this  case,  and  repeated  by  the  Circuit  Court  of  the 
United  States  for  the  Southern  District  of  New  York  in 
the  matter  of  Peter,  alias  Lewis  Martin,  was  that  the  exami- 
nation under  the  federal  slave  law  was  only  preliminary,  its 
purpose  being  merely  to  determine  the  claimant's  right  to 
carry  the  fugitive  back  to  the  state  whence  he  had  fled,  where 
the  question  of  slavery  would  properly  be  open  to  inquiry. 

The  mode  of  arrest  permitted  by  the  law  was  a  cause  of 
irritation  to  the  minds  of  abolitionists  throughout  the  free 
states,  and  became  one  of  the  points  concerning  which  they 
joined  issue  in  the  courts.     The  law  empowered  the  claimant 

1  Amendments,  Article  VII.  ^  Ibid.,  Article  V. 

» 12  WendelVs  Beports,  315-324. 


to  seize  the  fugitive  wheresoever  found  for  the  purpose  of 
taking  him  before  an  officer  to  prove  property.  The  circum- 
stances that  quickened  the  sympathy  of  a  community  into 
active  resistance  to  this  feature  of  the  law  are  fully  illus- 
trated in  one  of  the  earliest  cases  coming  before  a  high 
court,  in  which  the  question  of  seizure  was  brought  up 
for  determination.  The  case  is  that  of  Commonwealth  vs. 
Griffith,  which  was  tried  in  the  Supreme  Judicial  Court  of 
Massachusetts,  at  the  October  term  in  1823.  From  the 
record  of  the  matter  appearing  in  the  law-books,  one  gathers 
that  a  slave,  Randolph,  who  had  fled  from  his  master  in 
Virginia,  found  a  refuge  in  New  Bedford  about  1818,  where 
by  his  thrift  he  acquired  a  dwelling-house.  After  several 
years  he  was  discovered  by  Griffith,  his  owner's  agent,  and 
was  seized  without  a  warrant  or  other  legal  process,  although 
the  agent  had  taken  the  precaution  to  have  a  deputy  sheriff 
present.  The  agent's  intention  was  to  take  the  slave  before 
a  magistrate  for  examination,  pursuant  to  the  act  of  1793.  ^ 
New  Bedford  was  a  Quaker  town,  and  the  slave  seems  not 
to  have  lacked  friends,  for  the  agent  was  at  once  indicted 
for  assault  and  battery  and  false  imprisonment.  The  action 
thus  begun  was  prosecuted  in  the  name  of  the  state,  under 
the  direction  of  Mr.  Norton,  the  attorney-general.  As 
against  the  act  of  Congress  the  prosecution  urged  that 
the  Constitution  did  not  authorize  a  seizure  without  some 
legal  process,  and  that  such  a  seizure  would  manifestly  be 
contrary  to  the  article  of  the  amendments  of  the  Constitu- 
tion that  asserted  the  right  of  the  people  to  be  secure  in 
their  persons,  houses,  papers  and  effects,  against  unreason- 
able searches  and  seizures.^  The  protest  that  if  the  law 
was  constitutional  any  citizen's  house  might  be  invaded 
without  a  warrant  under  pretence  that  a  negro  was  concealed 
there  called  forth  the  interesting  remark  from  Chief  Justice 
Parker  that  a  case  arising  out  of  a  constable's  entering  a 
citizen's  house  without  warrant  in  search  of  a  slave  had 
come  before  him  in  Middlesex,  and  that  he  had  held  the  act 
to  be  a  trespass.     Nevertheless,  the  court  sustained  the  law 

^  2  Pickering's  Reports,  12.     See  Appendix  B,  p.  368. 
»  Amendments,  Article  IV  ;  2  Pickering'' s  Beports,  15,  16. 


on  the  ground  that  slaTes  were  not  parties  to  the  Constitu- 
tion, and  that  the  amendment  referred  to  had  relation  only 
to  the  parties.^ 

The  question  of  arrest  without  warrant  emerged  later  in 
several  other  cases;  for  example,  Johnson  vs.  Tompkins 
(1833),2  the  matter  of  Peter,  alias  Lewis  Martin  (1837),3 
Prigg  vs.  Pennsylvania  (1842),*  and  State  vs.  Hoppess 
(1845).^  The  line  of  objection  followed  by  those  opposing 
the  law  in  this  series  will  be  sufficiently  indicated  by  the 
arguments  presented  in  the  Massachusetts  case  of  1823, 
treated  above.  The  tribunals  before  which  the  later  suits 
were  brought  did  not  depart  from  the  precedent  set  in  the 
early  case,  and  the  act  of  1793  was  invariably  justified.  In 
Johnson  vs.  Tompkins  the  court  pointed  out  that  under 
the  law  the  claimant  was  not  only  free  to  arrest  his  fugitive 
without  a  warrant,  but  that  he  was  also  free  to  do  this  un- 
accompanied by  any  civil  officer,  although,  as  was  suggested, 
it  was  the  part  of  prudence  to  have  such  an  officer  to  keep 
the  peace.®  In  the  famous  case  of  Prigg  vs.  Pennsylvania, 
the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United  States  went  back  of  the 
law  of  Congress  to  the  Constitution  in  seeking  the  source 
of  the  master's  right  of  recaption,  and  laid  down  the  prin- 
ciple that  "under  and  in  virtue  of  the  Constitution,  the 
owner  of  a  slave  is  clothed  with  entire  authority,  in  every 
state  ia  the  Union,  to  seize  and  recapture  his  slave,  whenever 
he  can  do  it  without  any  breach  of  the  peace,  or  any  illegal 
violence.  In  this  sense  and  to  this  extent  this  clause  of 
the  Constitution  may  properly  be  said  to  execute  itself,  and 
to  require  no  aid  from  legislation,  state  or  national."' 

For  many  years  before  Prigg's  case  various  states  in  the 
North  had  considered  it  to  be  within  the  province  of  their 

1 2  Pickering^s  Beports,  19. 

"  In  the  Circuit  Court  of  tlie  United  States  for  the  Eastern  District  of 
Pennsylvania.  1  Baldwin's  Circuit  Court  Beports,  p.  571  et  seq.  See  Ap- 
pendix B,  p.  368.  «  2  Paine's  Beports,  350.    See  Appendix  B,  p.  369. 

*  16  Peters'  Beports,  613. 

6  2  Western  Law  Journal,  282.     See  Appendix  B,  p.  371. 

6  1  Baldwin's  Circuit  Court  Beports,  571 ;  Hurd,  Law  of  Freedom  and 
Bondage,  Vol.  II,  p.  444. 

'  16  Peters'  Beports,  613. 


legislative  powers  to  enact  laws  dealing  witli  the  subject  of 
fugitive  slaves.  It  would  be  beside  our  purpose  to  enter 
here  upon  an  examination  of  these  statutes,  but  it  is  proper 
to  say  that  the  variety  of  particulars  in  which  these  differed 
from  the  law  concerning  the  same  subject  enacted  by  Con- 
gress prepared  the  way  for  a  series  of  legal  contests  in  regard 
to  the  question,  whether  the  power  to  legislate  in  relation  to 
fugitive  slaves  could  be  exercised  properly  by  the  states  as 
well  as  by  the  federal  government.  This  issue  presented 
itself  in  at  least  three  notable  cases  under  the  law  of  1793: 
these  were  Jack  vs.  Martin  (1835),  Peter,  alias  Lewis  Mar- 
tin (1837),  and  Prigg  vs.  Pennsylvania  (1842).  The  decisions 
reached  in  the  first  and  last  cases  are  of  especial  significance, 
because,  in  the  first,  the  question  of  concurrent  jurisdiction 
constituted  the  subject  of  main  interest  for  the  Supreme 
Court  of  New  York,  the  court  to  which  the  case  had  been 
taken  from  an  inferior  tribunal;  while  in  the  last  case,  the 
importance  attaches  to  the  conclusive  character  of  an  adjudi- 
cation pronounced  by  the  most  exalted  court  of  the  nation. 

In  Jack  vs.  Martin  the  action  was  begun  under  the  New 
York  law  of  1828  for  the  recovery  of  a  fugitive  from  New 
Orleans.  Notwithstanding  the  fact  that  this  law  authorized 
the  seizure  and  return  of  fugitives  to  their  owners,  and  that 
in  the  case  before  us,  as  occurred  also  in  the  case  of  Peter, 
alias  Lewis  Martin,  the  negro  was  adjudged  to  his  claimant, 
the  law  of  the  state  was  considered  invalid,  because  the  right 
of  legislation  on  the  subject  was  held  to  belong  exclusively 
to  the  national  government.  ^ 

In  Prigg's  case^  a  statute  of  Pennsylvania,  passed  in  1826, 
and  bearing  the  suggestive  title,  "  An  act  to  give  effect  to 
the  provisions  of  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States  rela- 
tive to  fugitives  from  labor,  for  the  protection  of  free  people 
of  color,  and  to  prevent  kidnapping,"  was  violated  by  Edward 
Prigg  in  seizing  and  removing  a  fugitive  slave-woman  and 
her  children  from  York  County,  Pennsylvania,  into  Mary- 
land, where  their  mistress  lived.  In  the  argument  made 
before  the  Supreme  Court  in  support  of  the  state  law,  the  au- 
thority of  the  state  to  legislate  was  urged  on  the  grotmd  that 

1 12  Wendell's  Meports,  311,  316-318.  ^  gee  Appendix  B,  p.  370. 


such  authority  was  not  prohibited  to  the  states  nor  expressly 
granted  "in  terms  "  to  Congress;  ^  that  the  statute  of  Penn- 
sylvania had  been  enacted  at  the  instance  of  Maryland,  and 
with  a  view  to  giving  effect  to  the  constitutional  provision 
relative  to  fugitives  ;  ^  that  the  states  could  best  determine 
how  the  duty  of  delivery  enjoined  upon  them  should  be  per- 
formed so  as  to  be  made  acceptable  to  their  citizens  ;  ^  and 
that  the  act  of  Congress  was  silent  as  to  the  rights  of  negroes 
wrongfully  seized  and  of  the  states  whose  territory  was  en- 
tered and  laws  violated  by  persons  acting  under  pretext  of 
right.*  The  Supreme  Court  did  not  sustain  these  objections. 
A  majority  of  the  judges  agreed  with  Justice  Story  in  the 
view  that  Congress  alone  had  the  power  to  legislate  on  the 
subject  of  fugitive  slaves.  The  reasons  given  for  this  view 
were  two:  first,  the  constitutional  source  of  the  authority, 
by  virtue  of  which  the  force  of  an  act  of  Congress  pervades 
the  whole  Union  uncontrolled  by  state  sovereignty  or  state 
laws,  and  secures  rights  that  otherwise  would  rest  upon 
interstate  comity  and  favor;  and,  secondly,  the  necessity  of 
having  a  uniform  system  of  regulations  for  all  parts  of  the 
United  States,  by  which  the  differences  arising  from  the 
varieties  of  policy,  local  convenience  and  local  feelings  exist- 
ing in  the  various  states  can  be  avoided.  The  right  to  retake 
fugitive  slaves  and  the  correlative  duty  to  deliver  them  were  to 
be  "  coextensive  and  uniform  in  remedy  and  operation  through- 
out the  whole  Union."  While  maintaining  that  the  right  of 
legislation  in  this  matter  was  exclusively  vested  in  Congress, 
the  court  insisted  that  it  did  not  thereby  interfere  with  the 
police  power  of  the  several  states,  and  that  by  virtue  of  this 
power  the  states  had  the  authority  to  arrest  and  imprison 
runaway  slaves,  and  to  expel  them  from  their  borders,  just  as 
they  might  do  with  vagrants,  provided  that  in  exercising 
this  jurisdiction  the  rights  of  owners  to  reclaim  their  slaves 
secured  by  the  Constitution  and  the  legislation  of  Congress 
were  not  impeded  or  destroyed.^ 

As  the  friends  of  runaway  slaves  sometimes  sought  to 
oppose  to  the  summary  procedure  of  the  federal  law  the 

^  16  Peters' Seports,  579.  ^  Ibid.,  58&-590.  '  Ibid.,  596. 

*  Ibid.,  602.  5  Ibid.,  612-617. 


processes  provided  by  state  laws  in  behalf  of  fugitives,  so 
in  their  endeavor  to  overthrow  the  act  of  1793,  they  occa- 
sionally appealed  to  the  Ordinance  for  the  government  of 
the  Northwest  Territory.  The  Ordinance,  it  will  be  remem- 
bered, contained  a  clause  prohibiting  slavery  throughout  the 
region  northwest  of  the  Ohio  River,  and  another  authorizing 
the  surrender  of  slaves  escaping  into  this  territory.^  The 
abolitionists  took  advantage  of  these  provisions  under  cer- 
tain circumstances,  in  the  hope  of  securing  the  release  of 
those  that  had  fallen  into  the  eager  grasp  of  the  congres- 
sional act,  and  at  the  same  time  of  proving  the  incompati- 
bility of  this  measure  with  the  Ordinance.  The  attempt 
to  do  these  things  was  made  in  three  well-known  cases, 
which  came  before  the  courts  about  1845.  The  iirst  of 
these  was  State  vs.  Hoppess,  tried  before  the  Supreme 
Court  of  Ohio  on  the  circuit,  to  secure  the  liberation  of  a 
slave  that  had  fled  from  his  keeper,  but  was  afterwards 
recaptured ;  ^  the  second  was  Vaughan  vs.  WiUiams,  ad- 
judicated in  the  Circuit  Court  of  the  United  States  for  the 
District  of  Indiana,  a  case  originating  in  an  action  against 
the  defendant  for  rescuing  certain  fugitives  ;  ^  and  the  third 
was  Jones  vs.  Van  Zandt,  which  was  carried  to  the  Su- 
preme Court  of  the  United  States  and  there  decided.  This 
last  case  grew  out  of  the  aid  given  nine  runaways  by  Mr. 
Van  Zandt,  through  which  one  of  them  succeeded  in  escap- 
ing.* The  arguments,  based  upon  the  Ordinance,  that  were 
advanced  in  these  cases  are  adequately  set  forth  in  the  report 
of  the  first  case,  a  report  prepared  by  Salmon  P.  Chase,  sub- 
sequently Chief  Justice  of  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United 
States.  These  arguments,  two  in  number,  were  as  follows : 
first,  the  Ordinance  expressly  prohibited  slavery,  and  thereby 
effected  the  immediate  emancipation  of  all  slaves  in  the  Ter- 
ritory ;  and,  secondly,  the  clause  in  the  Ordinance  providing 
for  the  surrender  of  fugitives  applied  only  to  persons  held 
to  service  in  the  original  states.^ 

1  See  Chap.  II,  pp.  28,  32.  2  2  Western  Law  Journal,  279-293. 

'  3  Western  Law  Journal,  65-71 ;  also,  3  McLean^s  Reports,  530-538. 
*  5  Howard'' s  Reports,  215  et  seq. 
^  2  Western  Law  Journal,  281,  283  ;  3  McLean,  530. 

LAW  OF  1793  VESSUS  OKDINANCE  OF  1787  263 

The  opinions  given  by  tlie  courts  in  the  cases  under  con- 
sideration failed  to  support  the  idea  of  the  irreconcilability- 
existing  between  the  law  of  1793  and  the  Ordinance.  The 
Supreme  Court  of  Ohio  declared  that  under  the  federal  Con- 
stitution the  right  of  recaption  of  fugitive  slaves  was  secured 
to  the  new  states  to  the  same  extent  that  it  belonged  to  the 
original  states.^  The  Circuit  Court  of  the  United  States 
took  virtually  the  same  stand  by  pointing  out  that  a  state 
carved  from  the  Northwest  Territory  assumed  the  same  con- 
stitutional obligations  by  entering  the  Union  that  the  origi- 
nal thirteen  states  had  earlier  assumed,  and  that  where  a 
conflict  occurred  the  Constitution  was  paramount  to  the 
Ordinance.^  Finally,  the  Supreme  Court  at  Washington 
declared  that  the  clause  in  the  Ordinance  prohibiting  sla- 
very applied  only  to  people  living  within  the  borders  of  the 
Northwest  Territory,  and  that  it  did  not  impair  the  rights 
of  those  living  in  states  outside  of  this  domain.  Whereso- 
ever the  Ordinance  existed  the  states  preserved  their  own 
laws,  as  well  as  the  Ordinance,  by  forbidding  slavery ;  the 
provision  of  the  Constitution  and  the  act  of  Congress  look- 
ing toward  the  delivery  of  fugitive  slaves  did  not  interfere 
with  the  laws  of  the  free  states  as  to  their  own  subjects. 
The  court  therefore  held  that  there  was  no  repugnance 
between  the  act  and  the  Ordinance.^ 

Among  the  various  objections  raised  in  the  court-room 
against  the  law  of  1793,  the  denial  of  the  power  of  Congress 
to  legislate  on  the  subject  of  fugitive  slaves  was  one  that 
should  not  be  overlooked.  It  commanded  the  attention  of 
the  bench  in  at  least  two  important  cases,  both  of  which 
have  been  mentioned  in  other  connections,  namely,  Peter, 
alias  Lewis  Martin  (1837),  and  State  vs.  Hoppess  (1845). 
In  both  of  these  cases  the  denial  of  legislative  authority  was 
based  upon  the  doctrine  that  there  had  been  no  delegation 
of  the  necessary  power  to  Congress  by  the  Constitution. 
The  fugitive  slave  clause  in  the  Constitution,  it  was  said  in 
the   report   of  the   second   case,   prepared   by  Mr.    Chase, 

1  2  Western  Law  Journal,  288. 

2  3  McLean's  Beports,  532  ;  3  Western  Law  Journal,  65. 
»  5  Howard's  Reports,  230,  231. 


granted  no  power  at  all  to  Congress,  but  was  "a  mere 
clause  of  compact  imposing  a  duty  on  the  states  to  be  ful- 
filled, if  at  all,  by  state  legislation."  ^  However  prevalent 
this  view  may  have  been  in  the  Northern  states, — and  the 
number  of  state  laws  dealing  with  the  subject  of  fugitive 
slaves  indicates  that  it  predominated,  —  neither  the  Circuit 
Court  of  the  United  States  for  the  Southern  District  of  New 
York  in  the  earlier  case,  nor  the  Supreme  Court  of  Ohio  in 
the  later,  were  willing  to  subscribe  to  the  doctrine.  On  the 
contrary,  both  asserted  the  power  of  Congress  to  pass  laws 
for  the  restoration  of  runaway  slaves,  on  the  ground  that 
the  creation  of  a  duty  or  a  right  by  the  Constitution  is  the 
warrant  under  which  Congress  necessarily  acts  in  making 
the  laws  needful  to  enforce  the  duty  or  secure  the  right.^ 

The  outcome  of  the  judicial  examination  in  the  high 
courts  of  the  various  points  thus  far  considered  was  wholly 
favorable  to  the  constitutionality  of  the  law  of  1793.  The 
one  case  within  the  category  of  great  cases  in  which  that 
law  was  decided  to  be  unconstitutional  in  any  particular 
was  that  of  Prigg  vs.  Pennsylvania.  By  the  law  of 
1793  state  and  local  authorities  were  empowered  to  take 
cognizance  of  fugitive  slave  cases  together  with  judges  hold- 
ing their  appointments  from  the  federal  government.^  In 
the  hearing  given  the  case  before  the  Supreme  Court  at 
Washington,  in  1842,  Mr.  Johnson,  the  attorney-general  of 
Pennsylvania,  cited  former  decisions  of  the  Supreme  Court 
to  show  that  in  so  far  as  the  congressional  law  vested  juris- 
diction in  state  officers  it  was  unconstitutional  and  void.^ 
The  court's  answer  was  momentous  and  far-reaching. 
While  the  law  was  declared  to  be  constitutional  in  its  essen- 
tial features,  it  was  asserted  that  it  did  not  point  out  any 
state  functionaries,  or  any  state  actions,  to  carry  its  provi- 
sions into  effect.  The  states  could  not,  therefore,  so  the 
court  decided,  be  compelled  to  enforce  them  ;  and  any  in- 
sistence that  the  states  were  bound  to  provide  means  for  the 

1 2  Paine's  Heports,  354  ;  2  Western  Law  Journal,  282. 

'  2  Paine^s  Beports,  354,  355  ;  also,  2  Western  Law  Journal,  289. 

'  See  Section  3  of  the  act,  Statutes  at  Large,  I,  302-305. 

*  16  Peters'  Beports,  598. 


performance  of  the  duties  of  the  national  government,  no- 
where delegated  or  entrusted  to  them  by  the  Constitution, 
would  bear  the  appearance  of  an  unconstitutional  exercise 
of  the  interpretative  power,  i  As  the  decision  in  the  Prigg 
case  carried  the  weight  of  great  authority,  and  became  a 
precedent  for  all  future  judgments,^  the  relief  it  afforded 
state  officers  from  distasteful  functions  was  soon  accepted 
by  many  states,  and  they  enacted  laws  forbidding  their 
magistrates  to  issue  warrants  for  the  arrest  or  removal  of 
fugitive  slaves.^  In  consequence  of  this  manifest  disincli- 
nation on  the  part  of  the  Northern  states  to  restore  to 
Southern  masters  their  escaped  slaves,  the  federal  govern- 
ment was  induced  to  make  more  effective  provision  for  the 
execution  of  the  Constitution  in  this  particular.  Such  pro- 
vision was  embodied  in  the  second  Fugitive  Slave  Law, 
passed  as  a  part  of  the  Compromise  of  1850. 

That  the  new  law  was  not  intended  to  extinguish  the  old 
is  apparent  from  the  title  assigned  it,  which  read  :  "  An  Act 
to  amend,  and  supplementary  to,  the  Act  entitled  '  An  Act 
respecting  Fugitives  from  Justice,  and  Persons  escaping 
from  the  service  of  their  Masters,  .  .  ."*  Its  evident  pur- 
pose was  to  increase  the  facilities  and  improve  the  means 
for  the  recovery  of  fugitives  from,  labor.  To  this  end  it 
created  commissioners,  who  were  to  have  authority,  like 
the  judges  of  the  circuit  and  district  courts  of  the  United 
States,  to  issue  warrants  for  the  apprehension  of  runaway 
slaves,  and  to  grant  certificates  for  the  removal  of  such  per- 
sons back  to  the  state  or  territory  whence  they  had  escaped. 
All  cases  were  to  be  heard  in  a  summary  manner  ;  the  testi- 
mony of  the  alleged  fugitive  could  not  be  received  in  evi- 
dence ;  and  the  fee  of  the  commissioner  or  judge  was  to  be 
ten  dollars  when  the  decision  was  in  favor  of  the  claimant, 
but  only  five  dollars  when  it  was  unfavorable.  The  penalties 
created  by  the  new  law  were   more   rigorous   than  those 

1 16  Peters'  Beports,  608,  622.  See  also  Marion  G.  McDougall's  Fugitive 
Slaves,  pp.  108,  109. 

"  M.  G.  McDougall's  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  28. 

s  See  Chap.  IX,  pp.  245,  246,  and  Chap.  X,  p.  337. 

*  Statutes  at  Large,  IX,  462. 


imposed  by  the  old.  A  fine  not  to  exceed  a  thousand  dollars 
and  imprisonment  not  to  exceed  six  months  constituted  the 
punishment  for  harboring  a  runaway  or  aiding  in  his  rescue, 
and  the  party  injured  could  bring  suit  for  civil  damages 
against  the  offender  in  the  sum  of  one  thousand  dollars  for 
each  fugitive  lost  through  his  interference.  If  the  claimant 
apprehended  a  rescue,  the  officer  making  the  arrest  could 
be  required  to  retain  the  fugitive  in  his  custody  for  the  pur- 
pose of  removing  him  to  the  state  whence  he  had  fled.  The 
refusal  of  the  officer  to  obey  and  execute  the  warrants  and 
precepts  issued  under  the  provisions  of  the  law  laid  him 
liable  to  a  fine  of  a  thousand  dollars  for  the  benefit  of  the 
claimant ;  and  the  escape  of  a,  fugitive  from  his  custody, 
whether  with  his  assent  or  without  it,  made  him  liable  to  a 
prosecution  for  the  full  value  of  the  labor  of  the  negro  thus 
lost.  Ample  security  from  such  disaster  was  intended  to  be 
provided  for  the  marshal  and  his  deputies  by  the  clause 
authorizing  them  to  summon  to  their  aid  the  bystanders,  or 
posse  comitatus,  when  necessary,  and  aU  good  citizens  were 
commanded  to  respond  promptly  with  their  assistance.  In 
removing  a  fugitive  back  to  the  state  from  which  he  had 
escaped,  when  an  attempt  at  rescue  was  feared,  the  marshal 
in  charge  was  commanded  to  employ  as  many  persons  as  he 
deemed  necessary  to  resist  the  interference.  The  omission 
of  the  new  law  to  mention  any  officers  appointed  by  the 
states  is  doubtless  traceable,  as  is  the  clause  establishing 
commissionerships,  to  the  ruling  in  the  decision  of  Prigg's 
case  that  state  officers  could  not  be  forced  to  execute  federal 

It  will  be  remembered  that  the  decision  in  the  Prigg  case 
also  contained  a  ruling  that  acknowledged  the  right  of  the 
claimant  to  seize  and  remove  the  alleged  fugitive,  whereso- 
ever found,  without  judicial  process.  It  has  been  suggested 
recently  that  this  part  of  the  decision,  denominated  the 
most  obnoxious  part,  was  avoided  in  the  law  of  1850. ^  But 
the  language  of  the  new  law  no  more  denied  this  right  than 

1  Henry  W.  Rogers,  Editor,  Constitutional  History  of  the  United  States  as 
seen  in  the  Development  of  American  Law,  Lecture  III,  by  George  W.  Biddle, 
p.  152. 


the  language  of  the  old  bestowed  it.  In  both  cases  equally 
the  claimant  seems  to  have  enjoyed  the  right  of  private 
seizure  and  arrest  -without  process,  but  for  the  purpose  of 
taking  the  supposed  fugitive  before  the  proper  official.  ^  So 
far  as  the  language  of  the  statute  was  concerned  the  Prigg 
decision  was  quite  as  possible  under  the  later  as  under  the 
earlier  law.  It  was  the  language  of  the  Constitution  upon 
which  this  part  of  the  famous  decision  was  made  to  rest,  and 
that,  it  needs  scarcely  be  said,  continued  un.changed  during 
the  period  with  which  we  are  concerned. 

It  is  not  to  be  supposed,  of  course,  that  the  law  of  1850 
was  found  to  be  intrinsically  less  objectionable  to  abolitionists 
than  the  measure  it  was  intended  to  supplement.  On  the 
contrary,  it  soon  proved  to  be  decidedly  more  objectionable. 
The  features  of  the  first  Slave  Act  that  were  obnoxious  to  the 
Northern  people,  and  had  been  subjected  to  examination  in 
the  courts,  were  retained  in  the  second  act,  where  they  were 
associated  with  a  number  of  new  features  of  such  a  character 
that  they  soon  brought  the  new  law  into  the  greatest  con- 
tempt. While,  therefore,  the  records  of  the  trials  of  the 
chief  cases  arising  under  the  later  law  are  found  to  contain 
arguments  borrowed  from  the  contentions  made  in  the  cases 

1  Section  3  of  the  law  of  1793  provided  that  "the  person  to  whom  such 
labour  or  service  may  be  due,  his  agent  or  attorney,  is  hereby  empowered  to 
seize  and  arrest  such  fugitive  from  labour,  and  to  take  him  or  her  before  any 
judge  of  the  circuit  or  district  courts  of  the  United  States,  .  .  .  within  the 
state,  or  before  any  magistrate  of  a  county  (etc. )  .  .  .  wherein  such  seizure 
.  .  .  shall  be  made,  and  upon  proof  to  the  satisfaction  of  such  judge  or  magis- 
trate ...  it  shall  be  the  duty  of  such  judge  or  magistrate  to  give  a  certificate 
thereof  .  .  .  which  shall  be  a  sufficient  warrant  for  removing  the  said  fugitive 
...  to  the  state  or  territory  from  which  he  or  she  fled. ' ' 

Section  6  of  the  act  of  1850  provides  that  "the  person  or  persons  to 
whom  such  service  or  labour  may  be  due,  or  his,  her,  or  their  agent  or  attorney 
.  .  may  pursue  and  reclaim  such  fugitive  person,  either  by  procuring  a  war- 
rant ...  or  by  seizing  and  arresting  such  fugitive,  where  the  same  can  be 
done  without  process,  and  by  taking,  or  causing  such  person  to  be  taken, 
forthwith  before  such  court,  judge  or  commissioner,  whose  duty  it  shall  be 
to  hear  and  determine  the  case  ...  in  a  summary  manner ;  and  upon  satis- 
factory proof  ...  to  make  out  and  deliver  to  such  claimant,  his  or  her  agent 
or  attorney,  a  certificate  .  .  .  with  authority  .  .  to  use  such  reasonable 
force  ...  as  may  be  necessary  ...  to  take  and  remove  such  fugitive  per- 
son back  to  the  State  or  Territory  whence  he  or  she  may  have  escaped  as 


already  discussed,  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  they  afford 
proof  that  new  arguments  were  also  brought  to  bear  against 
the  act  of  1850.  As  with  the  first  Fugitive  Slave  Law,  so 
also  with  its  successor,  fault  was  found  on  account  of  the 
absence  of  any  provision  for  jury  trial ;  ^  the  authority  of  a 
claimant  or  his  agent  to  arrest  without  legal  process  ;  ^  the 
opposition  alleged  to  exist  between  the  law  and  the  Ordinance 
of  1787;  2  and  the  power  said  to  be  inaproperly  exercised  by 
Congress  in  legislating  upon  the  subject  of  fugitive  slaves.* 
It  is  unnecessary  to  introduce  here  a  study  of  these  points 
as  they  presented  themselves  in  the  various  cases  arising, 
for  a  discussion  of  them  would  lead  to  no  principles  of  im- 
portance other  than  those  discovered  in  the  cases  already 

In  some  of  the  cases  that  were  tried  under  the  act  of  1850, 
however,  new  questions  appeared ;  and  in  some,  where  the 
questions  were  perhaps  without  novelty,  the  circumstances 
were  such  that  the  cases  cannot  well  be  passed  over  in  silence. 

If,  as  was  freely  declared  by  the  abolitionists,  it  was  possi- 
ble for  free  negroes  to  be  abducted  from  the  Northern  states 
under  the  form  of  procedure  laid  down  by  the  act  of  1793, 
there  can  be  little  reason  to  doubt  that  the  same  thing  was 
equally  possible  under  the  procedure  established  by  the  act 

1  Sims'  case,  tried  before  the  Supreme  Judicial  Court  of  Massachusetts, 
March  term,  1851.    See  7  Oushing''s  Beports,  310. 

Miller  vs.  McQuerry,  tried  before  the  Circuit  Court  of  the  United  States, 
in  Ohio,  1853.     See  5  McLean's  Beports,  481-484. 

Ex  parte  Simeon  Bushnell,  etc.,  tried  before  the  Supreme  Court  of  Ohio, 
May,  1859.     See  9  Ohio  State  Beports,  170. 

2  Norris  vs.  Newton  et  al.,  tried  before  the  Circuit  Court  of  the  United 
States,  in  Indiana,  May  term,  1850.     See  5  McLean's  Beports,  98. 

Ex  parte  Simeon  Bushnell,  etc.    See  9  Ohio  State  Beports,  174. 

United  States  vs.  Buck,  tried  before  the  District  Court  of  the  United 
States  for  the  Eastern  District  of  Pennsylvania,  1860.  See  8  American  Law 
Begister,  543. 

8  Booth's  case,  tried  before  the  Supreme  Court  of  Wisconsin,  June  term, 
1854.     See  3  Wisconsin  Beports,  3. 

Ex  parte  Simeon  Bushnell,  and  ex  parte  Charles  Langston,  tried  before 
the  Supreme  Court  of  Ohio,  May,  1859.  See  9  Ohio  State  Beports,  111,  114- 
117,  124,  186. 

*  Sims'  case  See  7  Cushing's  Beports,  290.  Booth's  case.  See  3  Wis- 
consin Beports. 

6  Tor  the  text  of  the  Slave  Laws,  see  Appendix  A,  pp.  359-366. 


of  1850.  Certain  it  is  that  the  anti-slavery  people  were 
not  dubious  on  this  point,  but  they  had  scarcely  had  time  to 
formulate  their  criticisms  of  the  new  law  when  the  first  case 
under  it  of  which  there  is  any  record  demonstrated  the  ease 
with  which  this  legislation  could  be  taken  advantage  of  in 
the  commission  of  a  foul  injustice.  The  case  occurred  Sep- 
tember 26,  only  eight  days  after  the  passage  of  the  act. 
A  free  negro,  James  Hamlet,  then  living  in  New  York,  was 
arrested  as  the  slave  of  Mary  Brown,  of  Baltimore.  The 
hearing  took  place  before  a  United  States  commissioner  and 
the  negro's  removal  followed  at  once.  The  community  in 
which  Hamlet  was  living  was  greatly  incensed  when  the  facts 
concerning  his  disappearance  became  known,  and  the  sum  of 
money  necessary  for  his  redemption  was  quickly  contributed. 
Before  a  fortnight  had  elapsed  he  was  brought  back  from 
slavery.  1 

The  summary  manner  in  which  this  case  was  disposed  of 
had  prevented  a  defence  being  made  in  behalf  of  the  sup- 
posed fugitive.  In  the  next  case,  however,  that  of  Thomas 
Sims,  which  was  tried  before  the  Supreme  Judicial  Court  of 
Massachusetts  in  1851,  the  negro  was  represented  by  compe- 
tent counsel,  who  brought  forward  objections  against  the 
second  Fugitive  Slave  Law.  Almost  the  first  of  these  was 
directed  against  the  power  of  the  special  officers,  the  com- 
missioners, created  by  the  new  law.  It  was  insisted  that  the 
authority  with  which  these  officers  were  invested  was  dis- 
tinctly judicial  in  character,  despite  the  constitutional  pro- 
vision limiting  the  exercise  of  the  judicial  power  of  the 
United  States  to  organized  courts  of  justice,  composed  of 
judges,  holding  their  offices  during  good  behavior,  and  re- 
ceiving fixed  salaries  for  their  services.^  The  same  argu- 
ment seems  to  have  been  adduced  in  Scott's  case,  tried  before 
the  District  Court  of  the  United  States  in  Massachusetts  in 
1851 ;  in  the  case  of  Miller  vs.   McQuerry,  tried  before  the 

1  Marion  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  pp.  43  and  44,  witli  the  refer- 
ences there  given ;  Wilson,  Eise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  II, 
pp.  304,  305.    See  Appendix  B,  p.  372. 

2  7  Cushing's  Beports,  287.  The  constitutional  requirement  will  he  found 
in  Article  III,  Section  1,  of  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States. 


Circuit  Court  of  the  United  States  in  Ohio  in  1853  ;i  in 
Booth's  case,  argued  in  the  Supreme  Court  of  Wisconsin 
in  1854;  2  in  the  case  known  as  ex  parte  Robinson,  adjudicated 
by  the  Circuit  Court  of  the  United  States  for  the  Southern 
District  of  Ohio  at  its  April  term,  1855;  ^  and  in  the  case  ex 
parte  Simeon  Bushnell,  argued  and  determined  in  the  Su- 
preme Court  of  Ohio  in  1859.*  The  court  met  this  argu- 
ment by  a  direct  answer  in  four  of  the  cases  mentioned, 
namely,  those  of  Sims,  Scott,  Booth  and  ex  parte  Robinson. 
In  the  first,  Sims'  case.  Chief  Justice  Shaw  pointed  out 
that  under  the  Slave  Law  of  1793  the  jurisdiction  over  fugi- 
tive slave  cases  had  been  conferred  on  justices  of  the  peace 
and  magistrates  of  cities  and  towns  corporate,  as  well  as  on 
judges  of  the  United  States  circuit  and  district  courts,  and 
that  evidently,  therefore,  the  power  bestowed  had  not  been 
deemed  judicial  in  the  sense  in  which  it  was  urged  that  the 
functions  of  the  commissioners  were  judicial.  At  the  same 
time  the  judge  admitted  that  the  "  argument  from  the  limita- 
tion of  judicial  power  would  be  entitled  to  very  grave  consider- 
ation "  if  it  were  without  the  support  of  early  construction, 
judicial  precedent  and  the  acquiescence  of  the  general  and- 
state  governments.  In  the  trial  of  James  Scott,  on  the 
charge  of  aiding  in  the  rescue  of  Shadrach  (May  or  June, 
1851),  Judge  Sprague,  of  the  United  States  District  Court, 
held  that  the  legal  force  of  the  certificate  issued  by  a  com- 
missioner lay  merely  in  the  authority  it  conveyed  to  remove 
the  person  designated  from  one  state  to  another,  and  that 
the  disposition  made  of  the  person  removed  depended  solely 
upon  the  laws  of  the  state  to  which  he  was  taken.  The  facts 
set  down  in  the  certificate  were  not,  therefore,  to  be  considered 
as  matters  judicially  established,  but  as  facts  only  in  the 
opinion  of  the  commissioner.  In  Booth's  case,  the  opinion 
of  the  Supreme  Court  of  Wisconsin  contained  a  reference  to 
the  legality  of  the  power  of  the  commissioners  and  sustained 
the  objection  to  their  authority  on  the  ground  of  unconstitu- 
tionality.^    In  ex  parte  Robinson,  Judge  McLean  admitted 

1  5  McLean's  Seports,  481.  9  Ohio  State  Beports,  176. 

'^  3  Wisconsin  Beports,  39.  3  Wisconsin  Beports,  64. 

"  6  McLean^s  Beports,  359. 


that  the  inquiry  made  by  the  commissioner  was  "some- 
what in  the  nature  of  judicial  power,"  but  that  the  same 
remark  applied  to  all  the  officers  of  the  accounting  depart- 
ments of  the  government,  as,  for  example,  the  examiners  in 
the  Patent  Office.  He  also  remarked  that  the  Supreme 
Court  had  always  treated  the  acts  of  the  commissioners,  in 
the  cases  that  had  come  before  it,  as  possessed  of  authority 
under  the  law.^ 

The  uncertainty  as  to  the  precise  character  of  the  com- 
missioners' power  displayed  in  the  different  views  of  the 
courts  before  which  the  question  was  brought  marks  the 
observations  of  the  commissioners  themselves  in  regard  to 
their  authority.  Examples  will  be  found  in  Sims'  and 
Burns'  cases.  In  the  former,  Mr.  George  T.  Curtis  de- 
clared that  claims  for  fugitive  slaves  came  within  the  judi- 
cial power  of  the  federal  government,  and  that,  consequently, 
the  mode  and  means  of  the  application  of  this  power  to  the 
cases  arising  were  properly  to  be  determined  by  Congress. 
In  the  latter,  Mr.  Edward  G.  Loring  asserted  that  his  action 

•  was  not  judicial  at  all,  but  only  ministerial. 

-*  An  additional  ground  of  objection  to  the  commissioners 
was  found  in  the  provision  made  in  the  law  of  1850  for  their 
remuneration.  When  one  of  these  officers  issued  a  certifi- 
cate authorizing  the  removal  of  a  runaway  to  the  state 
whence  he  had  escaped,  he  was  legally  entitled  to  a  fee  of 
ten  dollars ;  when,  however,  he  withheld  the  warrant  he 
could  receive  but  five  dollars.  Abolitionists  took  much 
offence  at  this  arrangement,  and  sometimes  scornfully  de- 
nominated the  special  appointees  under  the  law  the  "  ten- 
dollar  commissioners,"  and  insisted  that  the  difference 
between  the  fees  was  in  the  nature  of  a  bribe  held  out  to 
the  officers  to  induce  them  to  decide  in  favor  of  the  claimant. 
Considering  the  prevalence  of  this  feeling  outside  of  the 
courts,  it  is  not  surprising  that  objections  to  the  section  of 
the  act  regulating  the  fees  of  commissioners  should  have  been 
taken  within  the  court-room.^  Such  objection  was  raised 
ia  McQuerry's  case,  and  was  answered  by  Judge  McLean. 

1  6  McLean's  Beports,  359,  360. 

2  Hurd,  Law  of  Freedom  and  Bondage,  Vol.  II,  p.  747. 


This  answer  is  probably  tbe  only  one  judicially  declared, 
and  is  worth  quoting:  "In  regard  to  the  five  dollars,  in 
addition,  paid  to  the  commissioner,  where  the  fugitive  is 
remanded  to  the  claimant,"  the  judge  explained,  "in  all 
fairness  it  cannot  be  considered  as  a  bribe,  or  as  so  intended 
by  Congress ;  but  as  a  compensation  to  the  commissioner 
for  making  a  statement  of  the  case,  which  includes  the  facts 
proved,  and  to  which  the  certificate  is  annexed.  In  cases 
where  the  witnesses  are  numerous  and  the  investigation 
takes  up  several  days,  five  dollars  would  scarcely  be  a  com- 
pensation for  the  statement  required.  Where  the  fugitive 
is  discharged,  no  statement  is  necessary."  ^ 
JXh^  foes  paid  te--CQmmissionersjwfire»^S-in.dicated  in  the 
remarks  just  quoted,  by  way  of  remuneration  for  services 
rendered  in  inquiries  relative  to  the  rights  of  ownership  of 
negroes  alleged  to  have  escaped  from  the  South.  These 
inquiries,  together  with  similar  inquiries  that  arose  under 
the  act  of  1793,  constitute  a  group  by  themselves.  Another 
group  is  made  up  of  the  cases  growing  out  of  the  prosecution 
under  the  two  acts  of  persons  charged  with  harboring  fugi- 
tive slaves,  or  aiding  in  their  rescue.  The  secrecy  observed 
by  abolitionists  in  giving  assistance  to  escaping  bondmen 
shows  that  the  evils  threatening,  if  a  discovery  occurred, 
were  constantly  kept  in  mind.  After  the  passage  of  the 
second  act,  public  denunciation  of  the  measure  was  indulged 
in  freely,  and  open  resistance  to  its  provisions,  whether 
these  should  be  considered  constitutional  or  not,  was  recom- 
mended in  some  quarters.  Such  remonstrances  seem  to 
have  early  disturbed  the  judicial  repose  of  the  courts,  for, 
six  months  after  the  new  Fugitive  Slave  Bill  had  become  a 
law.  Justice  Nelson  found  occasion  in  the  course  of  a  charge 
to  the  grand  jury  of  the  Circuit  Court  of  the  United  States 
for  the  Southern  District  of  New  York  to  deliver  a  speech 
on  sectional  issues  in  which  he  gave  an  exposition  of  the 
new  law,  "  so  that  those,  if  any  there  be,  who  have  made  up 
their  minds  to  disobey  it,  may  be  fuUy  apprised  of  the  con- 
sequences." ^    The  severer  penalties  of  the  law  of  1850  had 

1  5  McLean's  Seports,  481. 

*  1  Blatchford'' s  Circuit  Court  Beports,  636. 


no  deterrent  effect  upon  those  who  were  determined  to  resist 
its  enforcement.  The  fervor  displayed  in  harboring  runa- 
ways increased  rather  than  diminished  throughout  the  free 
states,  and  the  spirit  of  resistance  thus  fostered  broke  out 
in  daring  and  sometimes  successful  attempts  at  rescue. 
Through  the  activity  of  slave-owners  in  seeking  the  recov- 
ery of  their  lost  property,  and  the  support  afforded  them  by 
the  government  in  the  strict  enforcement  of  the  new  law,  a 
number  of  offenders  were  brought  to  trial  and  subjected  to 
punishments  inflicted  under  its  provisions. 

Among  the  prosecutions  arising  under  the  two  congres- 
sional acts  the  following  cases  are  offered  as  typical.  The 
number  has  been  limited  by  choosing  in  general  from  among 
such  as  came  before  supreme  courts  of  the  states,  or  before 
circuit  and  district  courts  of  the  United  States. 

One  of  the  earliest  cases  of  which  we  have  record  was 
brought  before  the  Circuit  Court  of  the  United  States  for 
the  Eastern  District  of  Pennsylvania  on  writ  of  error,  in 
1822.  The  action  was  for  the  penalty  under  the  law  of 
1793  for  obstructing  the  plaintiff,  a  citizen  of  Maryland,  in 
seizing  his  escaped  slave  in  Philadelphia  for  the  purpose  of 
taking  him  before  a  magistrate  there  to  prove  property. 
The  trial  in  the  United  States  District  Court  had  termi- 
nated in  a  verdict  of  $500  for  the  slave-owner.  Judge 
Washington,  of  the  Circuit  Court,  decided,  however,  that 
there  was  an  error  in  the  judgment  of  the  lower  court,  that 
the  judgment  must  be  reversed  with  costs,  and  the  cause 
remitted  to  the  District  Court  in  order  that  a  new  trial 
might  be  had.  This  case  is  known  in  the  law  books  as  the 
case  of  Hill  vs.  Low.^ 

Occasionally  an  attempt  at  rescue  ended  in  the  arrest  and 
imprisonment  of  the  slave-catchers,  as  well  as  the  release  of 
the  captured  negro.  When  a  party  of  rescuers  went  to 
such  a  length  as  here  indicated  it  laid  itself  liable  to  an 
action  for  damages  on  the  ground  of  false  imprisonment,  as 
well  as  to  prosecution  for  the  penalty  under  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law.     This  is  illustrated  in  the  case  of  Johnson  vs. 

1  4  Washington's  Circuit  Court  Reports,  327-331. 


TomkiDS,  a  case  belonging  to  the  year  1833.^  It  was  the  out- 
growth of  the  attempt  of  a  master  to  reclaim  his  slave  from 
the  premises  of  a  Quaker,  John  Kenderdine,  of  Montgomery 
County,  Pennsylvania.  Before  the  slave-owner  could  re- 
turn to  New  Jersey,  the  state  of  his  domicile,  he  and  his 
party  were  overtaken,  and  after  violent  handling  in  which 
the  master  was  injured,  they  were  taken  into  custody,  and 
were  forthwith  prosecuted.  The  trial  ended  in  the  acquittal 
of  the  company  from  New  Jersey,  whose  seizure  of  the 
negro  was  found  to  be  justifiable.  Then  followed  the  pros- 
ecution of  some  of  the  Pennsylvania  party  for  trespass  and 
false  imprisonment,  before  the  Circuit  Court  of  the  United 
States.  The  fact  that  the  defendants  were  all  Quakers  was 
noted  by  the  judge,  who  found  it  "  hard  to  imagine "  the 
motives  by  which  these  persons,  "  members  of  a  society  dis- 
tinguished for  their  obedience  and  submission  to  the  laws  " 
were  actuated.  The  question  of  damages  was  left  exclu- 
sively to  the  jury.  The  verdict  rendered  was  for  14,000, 
and  the  court  gave  judgment  on  the  verdict.^ 

The  law  of  1793  provided  a  double  penalty  for  those 
guilty  of  transgressing  its  provisions  :  first,  the  forfeiture 
of  a  sum  of  1500  to  be  recovered  for  the  benefit  of 
the  claimant  by  action  of  debt ;  secondly,  the  payment 
of  such  damages  as  might  be  awarded  by  the  court  in  an 
action  brought  by  the  slave-owner  on  account  of  the  injuries 
sustained  through  the  loss,  or  even  the  temporary  absence, 
of  his  property.  In  the  famous  case  of  Jones  vs.  Van  Zandt, 
which  was  pending  before  the  United  States  courts,  in  Ohio 
and  at  Washington,  for  five  years,  from  1842  to  1847,  the 
defendant  was  compelled  to  pay  both  penalties.  In  April, 
1842,  Mr.  Van  Zandt,  an  anti-slavery  Kentuckian,  who  had 
settled  at  Springdale,  a  few  miles  north  of  Cincinnati,  Ohio, 
was  caught  in  the  act  of  conveying  a  company  of  nine  fugi- 
tives in  his  market-wagon  at  daybreak  one  morning,  and, 
notwithstanding  the  efforts  of  the  slave-catchers,  one  of  the 
negroes  escaped.  The  trial  was  held  before  the  United 
States  Circuit  Court  at  its  July  term,  1843.     The  jury  gave 

1  4  Baldwin's  Circuit  Court  Reports,  571-605. 
"  Washington's  Circuit  Court  Reports,  327-331. 


a  verdict  for  the  claimant  of  $1,200  in  damages  on  two 
counts.^  Besides  the  suit  for  damages,  an  action  was 
brought  against  Van  Zandt  for  the  penalty  of  $500.  In  this 
action,  as  in  the  other,  the  verdict  was  for  Jones,  the  plain- 
tiff. The  matter  did  not  end  here,  however,  and  was  carried 
on  a  certificate  of  division  in  opinion  between  the  judges  to 
the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United  States.  The  decision  of 
this  court  was  also  adverse  to  Van  Zandt,  and  final  judg- 
ment was  entered  against  him  for  both  amounts.  This 
settlement  was  reached  at  the  January  term  in  1847.^ 

The  successful  rescue  of  a  large  company  of  slaves  was 
Ukely  to  make  the  adventure  a  very  expensive  one  for  the 
responsible  persons  that  took  part  in  it.  Such  was  the  ex- 
perience of  the  defendants  in  the  case  of  Giltner  vs.  Gorham 
and  others,  determined  in  1847.  Six  slaves,  the  chattels  of 
Mr.  Giltner,  a  citizen  of  Carroll  County,  Kentucky,  were 
discovered  and  arrested  in  Marshall,  Michigan,  by  the 
agents  of  the  claimant,  but  through  the  intervention  of  the 
defendants  were  set  at  liberty.  Action  was  brought  to  re- 
cover the  value  of  the  negroes,  who  were  estimated  to  be 
worth  $2,752.  In  the  first  trial  the  jury  failed  to  agree.  At 
the  succeeding  term  of  court,  however,  a  verdict  for  the 
value  of  the  slaves  was  found  for  the  plaintiff. ^ 

The  value  of  four  negroes  was  involved  in  the  case 
of  Norris  vs.  Newton  and  others.  These  negroes  were 
found  in  September,  1849,  after  two  years'  absence  from 
Kentucky,  living  in  Cass  County,  Michigan.  Here  they  had 
taken  refuge  among  abolitionists  and  people  of  their  own 
color.  They  were  at  once  seized  by  their  pursuers  and  con- 
veyed across  the  line  into  Indiana,  but  had  not  been  taken  far 
when  their  progress  was  stopped  by  an  excited  crowd  with  a 
sherifif  at  its  head.  The  officer  had  a  writ  of  habeas  corpus, 
and  the  temper  of  the  crowd  would  admit  of  no  delay  in 
securing  a  hearing  for  the  fugitives.  The  court-house  at 
South  Bend,  whither  the  captives  were  now  taken,  was  at 

1 2  McLean's  Beports,  612. 

^5  Boward's  Reports,  215-232;  see  also  Schuckers,  Life  and  Public 
Services  of  S.  P.  Chase,  63-66 ;  Wajden,  Private  Life  and  Public  Services 
of  S.  P.  Chase,  296-298 .  '  4  McLean's  Beports,  402-426. 


once  crowded  with  spectators,  and  the  streets  around  it  filled 
with  the  overflow.  The  negroes  were  released  by  the  de- 
cision of  the  judge,  but  were  rearrested  and  placed  in  jail 
for  safe-keeping.  On  the  following  day  warrants  were 
sworn  out  against  several  members  of  the  Kentucky  party, 
charging  them  with  riot  and  other  breaches  of  the  peace, 
and  civil  process  was  begun  against  Mr.  Norris,  the  owner 
of  the  slaves,  claiming  large  damages  in  their  behalf. 
Meanwhile  companies  of  colored  people,  some  of  whom  had 
firearms  and  others  clubs,  came  tramping  into  the  village 
from  Cass  County  and  the  intermediate  country.  Fortu- 
nately a  demonstration  by  these  incensed  bands  was  some- 
how avoided.  Two  days  later  the  fugitives  were  released 
from  custody  on  a  second  writ  of  habeas  corpus,  and,  attended 
by  a  great  bodyguard  of  colored  persons,  were  triumphantly 
carried  away  in  a  wagon.  The  slave-owner,  the  charges 
against  whom  were  dropped,  had  declined  to  attend  the  last 
hearing  accorded  his  slaves,  declaring  that  his  rights  had 
been  violated,  and  that  he  would  claim  compensation  under 
the  law.  Suit  was  accordingly  brought  in  the  Circuit  Court 
of  the  United  States  in  1850,  and  the  sum  of  $2,850  was 
awarded  as  damages  to  the  plaintiff.^ 

Another  case  in  which  large  damages  were  at  stake  was 
that  of  Oliver  vs.  Weakley  and  others,  tried  in  the  United 
States  Circuit  Court  for  the  Western  District  of  Pennsyl- 
vania, in  October  term,  1853.  It  was  alleged  and  proved 
that  Mr.  Weakley,  one  of  the  defendants,  had  given  shelter 
in  his  barn  to  several  slaves  of  the  plaintiff,  who  was  a 
citizen  of  Maryland.  The  jury  failed  to  agree  on  the  first 
trial.  A  second  trial  was  therefore  held,  and  this  time  a 
verdict  was  reached ;  one  of  the  defendants  was  found 
guilty,  and  damages  to  the  amount  of  f  2,800  were  assessed 
upon  him ;  the  other  defendants  were  declared  "not  guilty. "^ 

The  dismissal  without  proper  authority  of  seven  fugitives 
from  the  custody  of  their  captors  at  Sandusky,  Ohio,  by 
Mr.  Eush  R.  Sloane,  a  lawyer  of  that  city,  led  to  the  institu- 
tion of  two  suits  against  him  by  Mr.  L.  F.  Weimer,  the 
claimant  of  three  of  the  slaves.     The  suits  were  tried  before 

1  5  McLean's  Jteports,  92-106.       "  2  Wallace  Jr.'s  Seports,  324-326. 


the  District  Court  of  tte  United  States  at  Columbus,  Ohio, 
in  1854,  and  a  verdict  for  13,000  and  costs  was  returned  in 
favor  of  the  slaveholder.  The  costs  amounted  to  §330. 30, 
and  the  defendant  had  also  to  pay  f  1,000  in  attorneys'  fees. 
Some  friends  of  Mr.  Sloane  in  Sandusky  formed  a  committee 
and  collected  $393,  an  amount  sufficient  to  pay  the  court  and 
marshal's  costs,  but  the  judgment  and  the  other  expenses 
were  borne  by  the  defendant  individually.^ 

The  burden  of  the  penalty,  of  which,  as  we  have  just  seen, 
a  small  fraction  was  assumed  by  sympathizers  with  the 
offender  in  the  case  of  Mr.  Sloane,  was  altogether  removed 
by  friendly  contributors  in  the  case  of  another  citizen  of 
Sandusky.  Two  negroes  from  Kentucky,  who  were  being 
cared  for  at  the  house  of  iSIr.  F.  D.  Parish,  were  protected 
from  arrest  by  their  benefactor  in  February,  1845.  As 
Parish  was  a  fearless  agent  of  the  Underground  Road,  the 
fugitives  were  not  seen  afterwards  in  northern  Ohio.  The 
result  was  that  Parish  was  required  to  undergo  three  trials, 
and  in  the  last,  in  1849,  the  Circuit  Court  of  the  United 
States  for  the  District  of  Ohio  fined  him  f  500,  the  estimated 
value  of  the  slaves  at  the  time.  This  sum,  together  with  the 
costs  and  expenses,  amounting  to  as  much  more,  was  paid  by 
friends  of  Mr.  Parish,  who  made  up  the  necessary  amount  by 
subscriptions  of  one  dollar  each.^ 

1 6  McLean's  JSeports,  259-273.  Mr.  Sloane's  account  of  the  case  wiU  be 
found  in  The  Firelands  Pioneer  for  July,  1888,  pp.  46-49.  A  copy  of  the 
certificate  of  the  clerk  of  court  there  given  is  here  reproduced  :  — 

"Louis  F.  Weimer  vs.  Rush  R.  Sloane.  United  States  District  of  Ohio, 
in  deht. 

October  Teem,  1854. 

Judgment  for  Plaintifi  for  §3000  and  costs. 
Received  July  8th,  1856,  of  Rush  R.  Sloane,  the  above  Defendant,  a  receipt 
of  Louis  F.  Weimer,  the  above  Plaintiff,  bearing  date  Dec.  14th,  1854,  for 
§3000,  acknowledging  fuU  satisfaction  of  the  above  judgment,  except  the 
costs ;  also  a  receipt  of  L.  F.  Weimer,  Sr.,  per  Joseph  Doniphan,  attorney, 
for  $85,  the  amount  of  Plaintiff's  vritness  fees  in  said  case ;  also  certificates 
of  Defendant's  witnesses  in  above  case  for  $162 ;  also  #20  in  money,  the 
attorney's  docket  fees  attached,  which,  with  the  clerk  and  marshal's  fees 
heretofore  paid,  is  in  full  of  the  costs  in  said  case. 

(Signed)  William  Miner,  CTeri." 

5  For  the  first  trial  (1845),  see  3  McLean's  Meports,  631 ;  s.  c.  5  Western 
Law  Journal,  25 ;  7  Federal  Cases,  1100 ;  for  the  second  trial  (1847),  see 


It  will  have  been  noticed  that  the  Van  Zandt  and  Parish 
cases  were  in  litigation  for  about  five  years  each.  A  famous 
Illinois  case,  that  of  Dr.  Richard  Eells,  occupied  the  attention 
of  the  courts  and  of  the  public  more  or  less  during  an  entire 
decade.  The  incidents  that  gave  rise  to  this  case  occurred 
in  Adams  County,  Illinois,  in  1842.  In  that  year  Mr.  Eells 
was  indicted  for  secreting  a  slave  owing  service  to  Chauncey 
Durkee,  of  Missouri,  and  was  convicted  and  sentenced  to  pay 
a  fine  of  $400  and  the  costs  of  the  prosecution.  The  case 
was  taken  on  writ  of  error  first  to  the  Supreme  Court  of  the 
state,  and  after  the  death  of  Mr.  EeUs  to  the  Supreme 
Court  of  the  United  States.  In  both  instances  the  judg- 
ment of  the  original  tribunal  was  confirmed.  The  decision 
of  the  federal  court  was  reached  at  its  December  term  for 

It  was  sometimes  made  clear  in  the  courts  that  the  defend- 
ants in  cases  arising  under  the  Fugitive  Slave  laws  were  per- 
sons in  the  habit  of  evading  the  requirements  of  these  laws. 
This  is  true  of  the  case  of  Ray  vs.  Donnell  and  Hamilton, 
which  was  tried  before  the  United  States  Circuit  Court  in 
Indiana,  at  the  May  term,  1849.  A  slave  woman,  Caroline, 
and  her  four  children  fled  from  Kemble  County,  Kentucky, 
and  found  shelter  in  a  barn  near  Clarksburg,  Indiana. 
Here  they  were  discovered  by  Woodson  Clark,  a  farmer 
living  in  the  neighborhood,  who  took  measures  immediately 
to  inform  their  master,  while  the  slaves  were  removed  to 
a  fodder-house  for  safe-keeping.  In  some  way  Messrs. 
Donnell  and  Hamilton  learned  of  the  capture  of  the  negroes 
by  Mr.  Clark,  and  secured  a  writ  of  habeas  corpus  in  their 
behalf  ;  but,  if  the  testimony  of  Mr.  Clark's  son,  supported 
by  certain  circumstantial  evidence,  is  to  be  credited,  the 
blacks  were  released  from  custody  by  the  personal  efforts  of 
the  defendants,  and  not  by  legal  process.  Considerable  evi- 
dence conflicting  with  that  just  mentioned  appears  to  have 

10  Law  Reporter,  395  ;  s.  c.  5  Western  Law  Journal,  206 ;  7  Federal  Cases, 
1093  ;  for  the  third  trial  (1849),  see  5  McLean's  Reports,  64  ;  ».  c.  7  Western 
Law  Journal,  222 ;  7  Federal  Cases,  1095.  See  also  The  Firelands  Pioneer, 
July,  1888,  pp.  41,42. 

1  5  Illinois  Reports,  498-618  ;  14  Howard's  Reports,  13,  14. 


had  little  weight  with  the  jury,  for  it  gave  a  verdict  for  the 
claimant  and  assessed  his  damages  at  $1,500.^ 

In  the  trial  of  ^Mitchell,  an  abolitionist  of  the  town  of 
Indiana,  Pennsylvania,  in  1853,  for  harboring  two  fugitives, 
some  of  the  evidence  was  intended  to  show  that  he  was  con- 
nected with  a  "regularly  organized  association,"  the  business 
of  which  was  "to  entice  negroes  from  their  owners,  and  to 
aid  them  in  escaping  to  the  North."  The  slaves  he  was 
charged  with  harboring  had  been  given  employment  on  his 
farm  in  the  country,  where,  as  it  was  thought,  they  would 
be  secure.  After  remaining  about  four  months  they  were 
apprised  of  danger  and  escaped.  Justice  Grier  charged  the 
jury  to  "  let  no  morbid  sympathy,  no  false  respect  for  pre- 
tended 'rights  of  conscience,'  prevent  it  from  judging  the 
defendant  justly."  A  verdict  of  fSOO  was  found  for  the 

Penalties  for  hindering  the  arrest  of  a  fugitive  slave  were 
imposed  in  two  other  noted  cases,  which  deserve  mention 
here,  although  they  are  considered  at  length  in  another  con- 
nection. One  of  these  was  Booth's  case,  with  which  the 
Supreme  Court  of  Wisconsin,  and  the  District  and  Supreme 
Courts  of  the  United  States  dealt  between  the  years  1855  and 
1858.  The  sentence  pronounced  against  Mr.  Booth  included 
imprisonment  for  one  month  and  a  fine  of  $1,000  and  costs 
— 11,451  in  all.  3  The  other  case  was  what  is  commonly 
known  as  the  Oberlin- Wellington  case,  tried  in  the  United 
States  District  Court  at  Cleveland,  Ohio,  in  1858  and  1859. 
Only  two  out  of  the  thirty-seven  men  indicted  were  con- 
victed, and  the  sentences  imposed  were  comparatively  light. 
Mr.  Bushnell  was  sentenced  to  pay  a  fine  of  §600  and  costs 
and  to  be  imprisoned  in  the  county  jail  for  sixty  days,  while 
the  sentence  of  the  colored  man,  Langston,  was  a  fine  of 
1100  and  costs  and  imprisonment  for  twenty  days. 

In  all  of  the  cases  thus  far  considered  the  charges  upon 
which  the  transgressors   of  the  Fugitive  Slave  laws  were 

*  4  McLean's  Seports,  504-515. 
"  2  Wallace  Jr.'s  Beports,  313,  317-323. 

»  21  Howard'' s  Beports,  510 ;  The  Fugitive  Slave  Law  in  Wisconsin,  with 
Reference  to  Nullification  Sentiment,  by  VromaJi  Mason,  p.  134. 


prosecuted  were,  in  general  terms,  harboring  and  concealing 
runaways,  obstructing  their  arrest,  or  aiding  in  their  rescue. 
There  was,  however,  one  case  in  which  the  crime  alleged  in 
the  indictment  was  much  more  serious,  being  nothing  less 
than  treason  against  the  United  States.  This  was  the  fa- 
mous Christiana  case,  marked  not  only  by  the  nature  of  the 
indictment,  but  by  the  organized  resistance  to  arrest  made 
by  the  slaves  and  their  friends,  and  by  the  violent  death  of 
one  of  the  attacking  party.  The  frequent  abduction  of 
negroes  from  the  neighborhood  of  Christiana,  in  southeast- 
ern Pennsylvania,  seems  to  have  given  occasion  for  the 
formation,  about  1851,  of  a  league  for  self-protection  among 
the  many  colored  persons  living  in  that  region.^  The  lead- 
ing spirit  in  this  association  was  William  Parker,  a  fugitive 
slave  whose  house  was  a  refuge  for  other  runaways.  On 
September  10,  Parker  and  his  neighbors  received  word  from 
the  Vigilance  Committee  of  Philadelphia  that  Gorsuch,  a 
slaveholder  of  Maryland,  had  procured  warrants  for  the 
arrest  of  two  of  his  slaves,  known  to  be  staying  at  Parker's 
house.  When,  therefore,  Gorsuch  with  his  son  and  some 
friends  appeared  upon  the  scene  about  daybreak  on  the 
morning  of  the  11th,  and,  having  broken  into  the  house, 
demanded  the  fugitives,  the  negroes  lost  little  time  in  sound- 
ing a  horn  from  one  of  the  upper-story  windows  to  summon 
their  friends.  From  fifty  to  one  hundred  men,  armed  with 
guns,  clubs  and  corn-cutters,  soon  came  up.  Castner  Han- 
way  and  Elijah  Lewis,  two  Quakers,  who  had  been  drawn 
to  the  place  by  the  disturbance,  declined  to  join  the  mar- 
shal's posse  and  help  arrest  the  slaves ;  but  they  advised  the 
negroes  against  resisting  the  law,  and  warned  Gorsuch  and 
his  party  to  depart  if  they  would  prevent  bloodshed.  Neither 
side  would  yield,  and  a  fight  was  soon  in  progress.  In  the 
course  of  the  conflict  the  slave-owner  was  killed,  his  son 
severely  wounded,  and  the  fugitives  managed  to  escape. 

The  excitement  caused  by  this  affair  extended  throughout 
the  country.  The  President  of  the  United  States  placed  a 
company  of  forty-five  marines  at  the  disposal  of  the  United 

I  Smedley,  Underground  Railroad,  pp.  107,  108  ;  2  Wallace  Jr.'s  BeporU, 

CHRISTIANA  CASE,  1854  281 

States  marshal,  and  these  proceeded  under  orders  to  the 
place  of  the  riot.  A  large  number  of  police  and  special 
constables  made  search  far  and  wide  for  those  concerned  in 
the  rescue.  Their  efforts  were  rewarded  with  the  arrest  of 
thirty-five  negroes  and  three  Quakers,  among  the  latter  Han- 
way  and  Lewis,  who  gave  themselves  up.  The  prisoners 
were  taken  to  Philadelphia  and  indicted  by  the  grand  jury 
for  treason.  Hanway  was  tried  before  the  Circuit  Court 
of  the  United  States  for  the  Eastern  District  of  Pennsyl- 
vania in  November  and  December,  1851.  In  the  trial  it 
was  shown  by  the  defence  that  Mr.  Hanway  was  a  native 
of  a  Southern  state,  had  lived  long  in  the  South,  and,  during 
his  three  years'  residence  in  Pennsylvania,  had  kept  aloof 
from  anti-slavery  organizations  and  meetings ;  his  presence 
at  the  riot  was  proved  to  be  accidental.  Under  these  cir- 
cumstances the  charge  of  Justice  Grier  to  the  jury  was  a 
demonstration  of  the  unsoundness  of  the  indictment :  the 
judge  asked  the  jury  to  observe  that  a  conspiracy  to  be 
classed  as  an  act  of  treason  must  have  been  for  the  purpose 
of  effecting  something  of  a  public  nature ;  and  that  the  ef- 
forts of  a  band  of  fugitive  slaves  in  opposition  to  the  capture 
of  any  of  their  number,  even  though  they  were  directed  by 
friends  and  went  the  full  length  of  committing  murder  upon 
their  pursuers,  was  altogether  for  a  private  object,  and  could 
not  be  called  "  levying  war  "  against  the  nation.  It  did  not 
take  the  jury  long  to  decide  the  case.  After  an  absence  of 
twenty  minutes  the  verdict  "  not  guilty  "  was  returned.  One 
of  the  negroes  was  also  tried,  but  not  convicted.  Afterward 
a  bill  was  brought  against  Hanway  and  Lewis  for  riot  and 
murder,  but  the  grand  jury  ignored  it,  and  further  prosecu- 
tion was  dropped.^ 

One  cannot  examine  the  records  of  the  various  cases  that 
have  been  passed  in  review  in  the  preceding  pages  of  this 
chapter  without  being  struck  in  many  instances  by  the  char- 
acter of  the  men  that  served  as  counsel  for  fugitive  slaves  and 

1  StiU's  Underground  Bailroad  Seeords,  pp.  348-368 ;  Smedley,  Under- 
ground Bailroad,  pp.  107-130;  2  Wallace  Jr.'s  Reports,  pp.  134-206; 
M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  pp.  50,  51 ;  "Wilson,  Rise  and  Fall  of  the 
Slave  Power,  Vol.  H,  pp.  328,  329. 


their  friends.  It  not  infrequently  happens  that  one  comes 
upon  the  name  of  a  man  whose  principles,  ability  and  elo- 
quence won  for  him  in  later  years  positions  of  distinction  and 
influence  at  the  bar  and  in  public  life.  In  the  Christiana 
case,  for  example,  Thaddeus  Stevens  was  a  prominent  figure ; 
in  the  Van  Zandt  case  Salmon  P.  Chase  and  William  H. 
Seward  presented  the  arguments  against  the  Fugitive  Slave 
Law  before  the  United  States  Supreme  Court  ;i  Mr.  Chase 
also  appeared  in  Eells'  case,  and  in  the  case  known  as  ex  'parte 
Robinson,  besides  others  of  less  judicial  importance.  Ruth- 
erford B.  Hayes  took  part  in  a  number  of  fugitive  slave  cases 
in  Cincinnati,  Ohio.  A  letter  written  by  the  ex-President 
in  1892  says:  "As  a  young  lawyer,  from  the  passage  of  the 
Fugitive  Slave  Law  until  the  war,  I  was  engaged  in  slave  cases 
for  the  fugitives,  having  an  understanding  with  Levi  Coffin 
and  other  directors  and  officers  of  the  U.  R.  R.  that  my 
services  \^ould  be  freely  given."  ^  John  JoUiffe,  another 
lawyer  of  Cincinnati,  less  known  than  the  anti-slavery  advo- 
cates already  mentioned,  was  sometimes  associated  with  Chase 
and  Hayes  in  pleading  the  cause  of  fugitives.^  The  "West- 
ern Reserve  was  not  without  its  members  of  the  bar  that 
were  ready  to  display  their  legal  talent  in  a  movement  well 
grounded  in  the  popular  mind  of  eastern  Ohio.  An  illustra- 
tion is  afforded  by  the  trial  of  the  Oberlin-Wellington  res- 
cuers, when  four  eminent  attorneys  of  Cleveland  offered  their 
services  for  the  defence,  declining  at  the  same  time  to  accept 
a  fee.  The  event  shows  that  the  political  aspirations  of  these 
men  were  not  injured  by  their  procedure,  for  Mr.  Albert  G. 
Riddle,  who  spoke  first  for  the  defence,  was  elected  to  Con- 
gress from  the  Cleveland  district  the  following  year,  and 
Mr.  Rufus  P.  Spalding,  one  of  his  associates,  was  similarly 
honored  by  the  same  district  in  1862.*  In  November,  1852, 
the  legal  firm  of  William  H.  West  and  James  Walker,  of 
Belief ontaine,  Ohio,  attempted  to  release  from  custody  several 

1  Wilson,  'Rise,  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  I,  p.  477. 

2  Letter  of  Mr.  Hayes,  Fremont,  0.,  Aug.  4,  1892. 
'  Reminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin,  pp.  548,  549. 

*  Rhodes,  History  of  the  United  States,  Vol.  11,  p.  364.  The  others  repre- 
senting the  rescuers  were  Franklin  T.  Backus  and  Seneca  O.  Griswold.  See 
J.  R.  Shipherd's  History  of  the  Oberlin-Wellington  Rescue,  p.  14. 

^       : 

.^Sl  '•*• 
















OF  Sandusky,  Ohio, 

fined  $3000  and  costs  for  assisting  run- 
aways to  Canada. 

who  befriended  fugitives  in  soutlieastern 
Pennsylvania,  and  appeared  for  them 
in  court. 

J.   R.   WARE, 


a  Station-keeper,  in  a  centre  receiving  fu- 
gitives from  several  converging  routes. 

Ex-President  R.   B.   HAYES, 
who,  as  a  young  lawyer  in   Cincinnati. 
Ohio,  served  as  counsel  in  fugitive  slave 


negroes  belonging  to  the  Piatt  family  of  Kentucky,  before 
their  claimants  could  arrive  to  prove  property.  The  attempt 
was  successful,  and,  by  prearrangement,  the  fugitives  were 
taken  into  a  carriage  and  driven  rapidly  to  a  neighboring 
station  of  the  Underground  Railroad.  The  funds  to  pay  the 
sheriff,  the  court  expenses  and  the  livery  hire  were  borne  in 
part  by  Messrs.  West  and  Walker.^ 

Among  the  names  of  the  legal  opponents  of  fugitive  slave 
legislation  in  Massachusetts,  that  of  Josiah  Quincy,  who 
gained  distinction  in  public  life  and  as  President  of  Harvard 
College,  is  first  to  be  noted.  Mr.  Quincy  was  counsel  for 
the  alleged  runaway  in  one  of  the  earliest  cases  arising  under 
the  act  of  1793.^  In  some  of  the  well-known  cases  that  were 
tried  under  the  later  act  Richard  H.  Dana,  Robert  Rantoul, 
Jr.,  Ellis  Gray  Loring,  Samuel  E.  Sewell  and  Charles  G-. 
Davis  appeared  for  the  defence.  Sims'  case  was  conducted 
by  Robert  Rantoul,  Jr.,  and  Mr.  Sewell ;  Shadrach's  by 
Messrs.  Davis,  Sewell  and  Loring  ;  and  Burns'  case  by  Mr. 
Dana  and  others.* 

Instances  gathered  from  other  Northern  states  seem  to 
indicate  that  information  of  arrests  under  the  Fugitive  Slave 
acts  almost  invariably  called  out  some  volunteer  to  use  his 
legal  knowledge  and  skill  in  behalf  of  the  accused,  and  that 
in  many  centres  there  were  not  lacking  men  of  professional 
standing  ready  to  give  their  best  efforts  under  circumstances 
that  promised,  in  general,  little  but  defeat.  Owen  Lovejoy, 
of  Princeton,  Illinois,  was  arrested  on  one  occasion  for  aiding 
fugitive  slaves,  and  was  defended  by  James  H.  Collins,  a 
well-known  attorney  of  Chicago.  Returning  from  the  trial 
of  Lovejoy,  Mr.  Collins  learned  of  the  arrest  of  Deacon 
Gushing,  of  WiU  County,  on  a  similar  charge,  and  together 
with  John  M.  Wilson  he  immediately  volunteered  to  conduct 
the  new  case.*  At  the  hearing  of  Jim  Gray,  a  runaway  from 
Missouri,  held  before  Judge  Caton  of  the  State  Supreme 
Court  at  Ottawa,  Illinois,  Judge  E.  S.  Leland,  B.  C.  Cook, 

1  Conversation  with  Judge  William  H.  West,  Belief ontaine,  O.,  Aug.  11, 

'  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  35. 

» Ibid.,  pp.  44,  46,  47. 

*  G.  H.  Woodruff,  History  of  Will  County,  Illinois,  p.  264. 


O.  C.  Gray  and  J.  O.  Glover  appeared  voluntarily  as  coun- 
sel for  the  negro.i  As  a  result  of  the  hearing  it  was  decided 
by  the  court  that  the  arrest  was  illegal,  since  it  had  been 
made  under  the  state  law ;  the  negro  was,  therefore,  dis- 
charged from  the  arrest,  but  could  not  be  released  by  the 
judge  from  the  custody  of  the  United  States  marshal.  How- 
ever, the  bondman  was  rescued,  and  thus  escaped.  Eight 
men  were  indicted  on  account  of  this  affair,  prominent  among 
whom  were  John  Hossack  and  Dr.  Joseph  Stout,  of  Ottawa. 
Mr.  Hossack,  who  was  tried  first,  had -an  array  of  six  of  the 
leading  lawyers  of  Chicago  to  present  his  side  of  the  case ; 
they  were  the  Hons.  Isaac  N.  Arnold,  Joseph  Knox,  B.  C. 
Cook,  J.  V.  Eustace,  E.  Leland  and  E.  C.  Larnard.  Mr. 
Stout  had  three  of  these  men  to  represent  him,  namely, 
Messrs.  Eustace,  Larnard  and  Arnold.^  Early  in  March, 
1860,  two  citizens  of  Tabor,  Iowa,  Edward  Sheldon  and 
Newton  Woodford,  were  captured  while  conducting  four 
runaways  from  the  Indian  Territory  to  a  station  of  the  Un- 
derground Railroad.  At  the  trial  they  were  ably  defended 
by  James  Vincent,  Lewis  Mason  and  his  brother,  and  were 
acquitted.  It  may  be  added  that  the  trial  closed  at  nine 
o'clock  in  the  evening,  and  before  daybreak  the  negroes  had 
been  rescued  and  sent  forward  on  their  way  to  Canada.* 

In  Philadelphia  there  were  several  lawyers  that  could 
always  be  depended  on  to  resist  the  claims  of  the  slave-owner 
to  his  recaptured  property  in  the  courts.  William  StiU  men- 
tions two  of  these,  namely,  David  Paul  Brown  and  WiUiam 
S.  Pierce,  as  "well-known  veterans"  ready  to  defend  the 
slave  "wherever  and  whenever  called  upon  to  do  so."* 
Robert  Purvis  relates  an  incident  of  David  Paul  Brown  that 
will  be  recognized  as  characteristic  of  the  spirit  in  which  the 
class  of  advocates  to  which  he  belonged  rendered  their  ser- 
vices for  the  slave.     A  case  growing  out  of  the  capture  of  a 

1  The  Ottawa  Bepublican,  Nov.  9,  1891.  The  hearing  occurred  Oct.  20, 

2  The  Pontiac  (HI.)  Sentinel,  1891-1892. 

»  The  Tabor  (la.)  Beacon,  1890-1891,  Chap.  XXI  of  a  series  of  articles 
by  the  Rev.  John  Todd,  on  "The  Early  Settlement  and  Growth  of  Western 

*  Underground  Bailroad  Records,  p.  367. 


negro  by  his  pursuers  occupied  the  attention  of  Mr.  Purvis 
for  a  season  in  1836,  and  he  desited  to  engage  Mr.  Brown 
for  the  defence  ;  he  accordingly  presented  the  matter  to  the 
distinguished  attorney,  offering  him  a  fee  of  fifty  dollars  in 
advance.  Mr.  Brovs^n  promptly  undertook  the  case,  but  re- 
fused the  money,  saying  :  "  I  shall  not  now,  nor  have  I  ever, 
accepted  fee  or  reward,  other  than  the  approval  of  my  own 
conscience,  and  I  respectfully  decline  receiving  your  money."! 

In  what  was,  so  far  as  known,  the  last  case  under  the 
Slave  Law  of  1850,  Mr.  John  Dean,  a  prominent  lawyer  of 
Washington,  D.C.,  displayed  noteworthy  zeal  in  the  interest 
of  his  client,  a  supposed  fugitive.  The  affair  occurred  in 
June,  1862,  and  came  within  the  cognizance  of  the  United 
States  courts.  Mr.  Dean,  who  had  just  obtained  the  dis- 
charge of  the  colored  man  from  arrest,  interfered  to  prevent 
his  seizure  a  second  time  as  the  slave  of  a  Virginian.  The 
claimant,  aided  by  other  persons,  sought  to  detain  the  black 
until  a  civil  officer  should  arrive  to  take  him  into  custody, 
but  the  attorney's  surprising  play  at  fisticuffs  defeated  the 
efforts  of  the  assailing  party  and  the  black  got  away.  He 
soon  enlisted  in  one  of  the  colored  regiments  then  forming 
in  Washington,  and  it  is  to  be  surmised  that  all  question 
concerning  his  status  was  put  to  rest  by  this  step.  Mr. 
Dean  was  indicted  for  aiding  in  the  escape  of  a  fugitive 
slave,  and  although  the  affair  is  said  to  have  caused  great 
excitement  in  the  Capital,  especially  in  the  two  Houses  of 
Congress,  it  never  reached  a  legal  decision,  but  lapsed  through 
the  progress  of  events  that  led  rapidly  to  the  Emancipation 
Proclamation  and  the  repeal  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  laws.^ 

In  the  crisis  that  was  reached  with  the  beginning  of  the 
new  decade,  the  question  of  the  rendition  of  fugitives  from 
service  was  by  no  means  lost  sight  of.  As  in  1850,  so  in 
1860  a  measure  for  the  more  effective  protection  of  slave 
property  appears  to  have  been  a  necessary  condition  in  any 
plan  of  compromise  that  was  to  gain  Southern  support. 
President  Buchanan  sought  to  meet  the  situation  by  pro- 

1  Smedley,  Underground  Bailroad,  p.  359. 

2  This  case  is  given  by  Mr.  Noah  Brooks,  in  his  Washington  in  Lincoln's 
Time,  1895,  pp.  197,  198. 


posing,  in  his  message  of  December  4,  1860,  the  adoption  of 
"  explanatory  "  amendment's  to  the  Constitution  recognizing 
the  master's  right  of  recovery  and  the  validity  of  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law ;  he  also  recommended  a  declaration  against  the 
so-called  personal  liberty  laws  of  the  states  as  unconstitu- 
tional, and  therefore  void.  This  produced,  within  three 
months,  in  the  House,  a  crop  of  more  than  twenty  resolutions 
relative  to  fugitive  slaves  ;  the  deliberations  of  that  body 
issued  at  length,  March  1,  1861,  in  the  passage  of  a  bill  to 
make  more  effective  the  law  of  1850.  The  new  measure 
provided  for  an  appeal  to  the  Circuit  Court  of  the  United 
States,  where  cases  were  to  be  tried  by  jury.  But  in  the 
Senate  this  bill  never  got  beyond  the  first  reading. 

That  the  people  of  the  Northern  states  would  have 
acquiesced  in  a  new  law  for  the  surrender  of  runaway 
negroes  was  certainly  not  to  be  expected.  Both  the  law  of 
1793  and  that  of  1850  had  been  systematically  evaded  as  well 
as  frequently  denounced,  and  now  memorials  were  being 
sent  to  Congress  praying  for  the  repeal  of  the  despised  legis- 
lation. ^  A  bill  for  this  purpose  was  introduced  into  the 
House  by  Mr.  Blake,  of  Ohio,  in  1860,  but  was  smothered 
by  the  attempt  to  amend  the  existing  law.  A  similar 
measure  was  introduced  into  the  Senate  in  December,  1861, 
by  Mr.  Howe,  of  Wisconsin,  who  prefaced  its  presentation 
by  declaring  that  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  "  has  had  its  day. 
As  a  party  act  it  has  done  its  work.  It  probably  has  done 
as  much  mischief  as  any  other  one  act  that  was  ever  passed 
by  the  national  legislature.  It  has  embittered  against  each 
other  two  great  sections  of  the  country." ^  The  bill  was 
referred  to  a  committee,  where  it  was  kept  for  some  time, 
and  at  length  was  reported  adversely  in  February,  1863. 

In  the  meantime  slavery  was  subjected  to  a  series  of  de- 
structive attacks  in  Congress,  despite  the  views  of  some,  who 
held  that  the  institution  was  under  constitutional  protection. 
The  passions  and  exigencies  of  the  War,  together  with  the 
humane  motives  from  which  the  anti-slavery  movement  had 
sprung,  did  not  leave  these  assaults  without  justification. 

1  Wilson,  Hise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  Ill,  p.  395. 

'  Congressional  Globe,  Thirty-seventli  Congress,  First  Session,  1356. 


In  August,  1861,  a  law  was  enacted  providing  for  the 
emancipation  of  negroes  employed  in  military  service  against 
the  government ;  in  April,  1862,  slavery  was  abolished  in 
the  District  of  Columbia  ;  in  May,  army  officers  were  forbid- 
den to  restore  fugitives  to  their  owners  ;  in  June  slavery 
was  prohibited  in  the  territories;  and  in  July  an  act  was 
passed  granting  freedom  to  fugitives  from  disloyal  masters 
that  could  find  refuge  with  the  Union  forces. 

In  the  train  of  these  measures,  and  in  September  of  the 
same  year  in  which  most  of  them  were  enacted.  President 
Lincoln  issued  his  proclamation  of  warning  to  the  South  de- 
claring that  all  persons  held  as  slaves  in  the  states  continuing 
in  rebellion  on  the  1st  of  January,  1863,  should  be  "  thence- 
forth and  forever  free."  When  the  warning  was  carried  into 
effect  on  the  first  day  of  the  new  year  by  the  famous  Procla- 
mation of  Emancipation,  ownership  of  slave  property  in  the 
border  states  was  not  abolished.  The  loyalty  of  these  states 
was  their  protection  against  interference.  As  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  was  not  yet  repealed  opportunity  was  still  afforded 
to  civil  officers  to  enforce  its  provisions  both  north  and  south 
of  Mason  and  Dixon's  line.  North  of  the  line  there  was, 
however,  no  disposition  to  enforce  the  law.  South  of  it 
wandering  negroes  were  sometimes  arrested  by  the  civil 
authorities  for  the  purpose  of  being  returned  to  their  mas- 
ters. The  following  advertisement,  printed  two  months  and 
a  half  after  the  final  proclamation  went  into  effect,  illustrates 
the  method  pursued  in  dealing  with  supposed  fugitives  :  — 

"  There  was  committed  to  the  jail  in  Warren  County,  Kentucky, 
as  runaway  slave,  on  the  29th  September,  1862,  a  negro  man  call- 
ing himself  Jo  Miner.  He  says  he  is  free,  but  has  nothing  to 
show  to  establish  the  fact.  He  is  about  thirty-five  years  of  age, 
very  dark  copper  color,  about  five  feet  eight  inches  high,  and  will 
weigh  one  hundred  and  fifty  pounds.  The  owner  can  come  for- 
ward, prove  property,  and  pay  charges,  or  he  will  be  dealt  with  as 
the  law  requires. 

E.  J.  POTTEK,  J.W.C. 

March  16,  1863.     1  m."  ' 

1  Liberator,  May  1,  1863.  Extract  from  tlie  Frankfort  Commonwealth, 
quoted  by  M.  G.  MoDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  80. 


Although  the  proposition  to  repeal  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law 
of  1850  had  been  made  in  Congress  in  1860,  and  repeated  in 
1861  and  1862,  no  definite  and  conclusive  action  was  taken 
until  1864.  During  the  session  of  1863-1864  five  bills  were 
introduced  into  the  House  looking  toward  the  repeal  of  the 
law.  In  the  discussion  of  the  subject  the  probable  effect  of 
revocation  upon  the  border  states  was  frequently  dwelt  upon, 
and  it  was  urged  by  many  members  that  the  loyal  slave  states 
would  consider  repeal  as  "  insult  and  outrage."  Mr.  Mallory, 
of  Kentucky,  was  one  of  those  that  took  this  view.  He  there- 
fore demanded  that  the  law  "  be  permitted  to  remain  on  the 
statute-book,"  urging,  "  If  you  say  it  will  be  a  dead  letter,  so 
much  less  excuse  have  you  for  repealing  it,  and  so  much  more 
certainly  is  the  insult  and  wrong  to  Kentucky  gratuitous." 
In  reply  to  this  and  other  arguments  the  need  of  enlisting 
negro  soldiers  was  pressed  on  the  attention  of  the  House,  and 
it  was  said  by  Mr.  Hubbard,  of  Connecticut,  "You  cannot 
draft  black  men  into  the  field  while  your  marshals  are  chas- 
ing women  and  children  in  the  woods  of  Ohio  with  a  view  to 
render  them  back  into  bondage.  The  moral  sense  of  the 
nation,  ay,  of  the  world,  would  revolt  at  it."  ^  The  conclusion 
that  slavery  was  already  doomed  to  utter  destruction  coidd 
not  be  avoided.  The  House  therefore  decided  to  throw  away 
the  empty  guarantee  of  the  institution,  and  June  13  the 
vote  on  the  bill  for  repeal  was  taken.  It  resulted  in  the 
measure  being  carried  by  a  vote  of  82  to  57.  When  the  bill 
from  the  House  came  before  the  Senate  the  question  of  repeal 
was  already  under  consideration,  and,  indeed,  had  been  for 
three  months  and  a  half.  Nevertheless,  the  House  measure 
was  at  once  referred  to  committee  and  was  reported  back  June 
15.  It  was  then  discussed  by  the  Senate  for  several  days  and 
voted  on  on  June  23,  the  result  being  a  vote  of  27  in  favor 
of  repeal  to  12  against  it.  Two  days  later  President  Lincoln 
affixed  his  signature  to  the  bill,  and  the  Fugitive  Slave  laws 
were  thereby  annulled  June  25,  1864.  The  constitutional 
provision  for  the  recovery  of  runaways,  which  had  been 

1  Congressional  Glohe,  Thirty -eighth  Congress,  First  Session,  2913.    See 
also  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  86. 


judicially  declared  in  the  decision  of  Prigg's  case  to  be  self- 
executing  was  not  cancelled  until  December  18,  1865,  when 
the  Secretary  of  State  proclaimed  the  adoption  of  the 
Thirteenth  Amendment  to  the  Constitution  by  the  requisite 
number  of  states. 



To  set  forth  tlie  political  aspect  of  the  Underground  Rail- 
road is  not  easy.  Yet  this  side  must  be  understood  if  the 
Underground  Railroad  is  to  appear  in  its  true  character  as 
something  more  than  a  mere  manifestation  of  the  moral 
sentiment  existing  in  the  North  and  in  some  localities  of  the 
South.  The  romantic  episodes  in  the  fugitive  slave  contro- 
versy have  been  frequently  described ;  but  it  has  alto- 
gether escaped  the  eye  of  the  general  historian  that  the 
underground  movement  was  one  that  grew  from  small 
beginnings  into  a  great  system ;  that  it  must  be  reckoned 
with  as  a  distinct  causal  factor  in  tracing  the  growth  of 
anti-slavery  opinion  ;  that  it  furnished  object  lessons  in  the 
horrors  of  slavery  without  cessation  during  two  generations 
to  communities  in  many  parts  of  the  free  states  ;  that  it  was 
largely  serviceable  in  developing,  if  not  in  originating,  the 
convictions  of  such  powerful  agents  in  the  cause  as  Harriet 
Beecher  Stowe  and  John  Brown ;  that  it  alone  serves  to  ex- 
plain the  enactment  of  that  most  remarkable  piece  of  legisla- 
tion, the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850  ;  and,  finally,  that  it 
furnished  the  ground  for  the  charge  brought  again  and 
again  by  the  South  against  the  North  of  injury  wrought  by 
the  failure  to  execute  the  law,  a  charge  that  must  be  placed 
among  the  chief  grievances  of  the  slave  states  at  the  begin- 
ning of  the  Civil  War. 

Even  in  colonial  times  there  was  difficulty  in  recovering 
fugitive  slaves,  because  of  the  aid  rendered  them  by  friends, 
as  is  apparent  from  an  examination  of  some  of  the  regula- 
tions that  the  colonies  began  to  pass  soon  after  the  intro- 
duction of  slavery  in  1619.  The  Director  and  Council  of 
New  Netherlands   enacted  an  ordinance  as  early  as  1640, 


GERRIT   SlUTH,    M.C., 

the  multi-millionnaire,  whose  mansiou  in 
Peterboro,  New  York,  was  a  station. 


who  kept  a  room  in  his  house  in  Jefferson, 
Ohio,  for  fugitives 



RICHARD  H.   DANA,   Jr., 



one  of  the  provisions  of  whicli  forbade  all  inhabitants  of 
New  Netherlands  to  harbor  or  feed  fugitive  servants  under  a 
penalty  of  fifty  guilders,  "  for  the  benefit  of  the  Informer ; 
\  for  the  new  Church  and  i  for  the  Fiscal."  i  Other 
regulations  for  the  same  colony  contained  clauses  prohib- 
iting the  entertainment  of  runaways ;  such  are  the  laws  of 
1642,2  1648,3  1658,4  and,  after  the  Dutch  had  been  sup- 
planted by  English  control,  those  of  17025  and  1730.6  An 
act  of  Virginia  that  went  into  force  in  1642  was  attributed 
to  the  complaints  made  at  every  quarter  court  "against 
divers  persons  who  entertain  and  enter  into  covenants  with 
runaway  servants  and  freemen  who  have  formerly  hired 
themselves  to  others,  to  the  great  prejudice  if  not  the  utter 
undoing  of  divers  poor  men,  thereby  also  encouraging  ser- 
vants to  run  from  their  masters  and  obscure  themselves  in 
some  remote  plantation."  By  way  of  penalty,  to  break  up 
the  practice  of  helping  runaways,  this  law  provided  that 
persons  guilty  of  the  offence  were  to  be  fined  twenty  pounds 
of  tobacco  for  each  night's  hospitality.''  That  the  law  was 
ineffectual  is  indicated  by  the  increase  of  the  penalty  in  1655 
by  the  addition  to  the  twenty  pounds  of  tobacco  for  eacli 
night's  entertainment  of  forty  pounds  for  each  day's  enter- 
tainment.^ Similar  acts  were  passed  by  Virginia  in  1657,® 
1666,1°  aj^(j  1726.11  The  last  act  required  masters  of  vessels 
to  swear  that  they  would  make  diligent  search  of  their  craft 
to  prevent  the  stowing  away  of  servants  or  slaves  eager  to 
escape  from  their  owners.  An  act  of  Maryland  passed  in 
1666  established  a  fine  of  five  hundred  pounds  of  casked 
tobacco  for  the  first  night's  hospitality,  one  thousand  pounds 
for  the  second,  and  fifteen  hundred  pounds  for  each  succeed- 
ing night.12    A  law  of  New  Jersey  in  1668  laid  a  penalty  of 

*  Laws  and  Ordinances  of  New  Netherlands,  32. 
^Ihid.  »iJid.,  104. 

*  Laws  of  New  Netherlands,  344. 

"  Acts  of  Province  of  New  York  from  1691  to  1718,  p.  58. 
» Ihid.,  193. 

'  Statutes  at  Large,  Henmg,  Laws  of  Virginia,  I,  253. 
«  Ibid.,  1,  401.  1°  Ibid.,  II,  239. 

»  Ibid. ,  I,  439.  "  Ibid. ,  IV,  168. 

u  Maryland  Archives,  Assembly  Proceedings,  147. 


five  pounds  in  money  and  such  damages  as  the  court  should 
adjudge  upon  any  one  transporting  or  contriving  the  trans- 
portation of  an  apprentice  or  servant ;  ^  while  another  law, 
enacted  seven  years  later,  declared  that  every  inhabitant 
guilty  of  harboring  an  apprentice,  servant  or  slave,  should 
forfeit  to  his  master  or  dame  ten  shillings  for  every  day's 
concealment,  and,  if  unable  to  pay  this  amount,  should  be 
liable  to  the  judgment  of  the  court.^  Provisions  are  also  to 
be  found  in  the  regulations  of  Massachusetts  Bay ,3  Rhode 
Island,*  Connecticut,^  Pennsylvania®  and  North  Carolina,'' 
clearly  intended  to  discourage  the  entertainment  or  the 
transportation  of  fugitives.  It  is  interesting  to  note  that 
in  these  early  times  Canada  was  a  refuge  for  fugitives.  In 
1705  New  York  passed  a  law,  which  was  reenacted  ten  years 
later,  to  prevent  the  escape  of  negro  slaves  from  the  city 
and  county  of  Albany  to  the  French  in  Canada.  The  reason 
given  for  the  law  was  the  necessity  of  keeping  from  the 
French  in  time  of  war  knowledge  that  might  prove  service- 
able for  military  purposes.* 

The  group  of  enactments  just  considered  together  with 
many  other  early  measures  relating  to  the  subject  of  fugitives 
makes  it  clear  that  the  question  of  extradition  of  runaway 
slaves  had  also  arisen  in  colonial  times.  A  stipulation  for 
the  return  of  fugitives  had  been  inserted  in  the  formal  agree- 
ment entered  into  by  Plymouth,  Massachusetts,  Connecti- 
cut and  New  Haven  at  the  time  of  the  formation  of  the  New 
England  Confederation  in  1643,®  and  may  be  supposed  to 

1  New  Jersey  Laws,  82. 

2  Ibid.,  109. 

'  Charters  and  General  Laws  of  the  Colony  and  Province  of  Massachusetts 
Bay,  386,  750  (1707  and  1718  respectively). 

*  Proceedings  of  General  Assembly,  Colony  of  Bhode  Island  and  Prom- 
dence  Plantations,  Providence,  177;  Records  of  Colony  of  Bhode  Island,  177. 

*  Acts  and  Laws  of  His  Majestie^s  Colony  of  Connecticut,  229  (1730  prob- 

8  Province  Laws  of  Pennsylvania,  Philadelphia,  1725 ;  Province  Laws  of 
Pennsylvania,  325. 

'  Laws  of  North  Carolina,  89  (1741);  Ibid.,  371  (1779). 

8  Acts  of  Province  of  New  York,  77  (1705)  ;  Laws  of  Province  of  New 
York,  218  (1715)  ;  Marion  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  8. 

°  Plymouth  Colony  Records,  IX,  6 ;  Marion  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive 
leaves,  7. 


have  remained  in  force  for  a  period  of  forty  years.  In  the 
first  national  constitution,  the  Articles  of  Confederation 
adopted  in  1781,  no  such  provision  was  made.  This  omis- 
sion soon  became  serious  through  the  action  of  the  states 
of  Vermont,  Pennsylvania,  Massachusetts,  Connecticut  and 
Rhode  Island  between  1777  and  1784  in  taking  steps  toward 
immediate  or  gradual  emancipation;  for  the  first  time  the  ques- 
tion of  the  status  of  fugitives  in  free  regions  was  now  raised. 

When,  in  1787,  the  question  arose  of  providing  a  govern- 
ment for  the  territory  northwest  of  the  Ohio  River,  the 
difi&culty  was  felt ;  and  the  Northwest  Ordinance  included 
a  clause  for  the  reclamation  of  fugitives  from  labor.  A 
proposition  made  by  Mr.  King  in  1785  to  prohibit  slavery 
in  this  region  without  any  provision  for  reclaiming  fugitives 
had  gone  to  committee,  but  was  never  afterwards  called  up 
in  Congress.  In  the  discussion  of  1787  an  amendment  was 
offered  by  Nathan  Dane,  of  Massachusetts,  the  first  clause  of 
which  excluded  slavery  from  the  territory,  and  the  second 
clause  provided  for  the  rendition  of  fugitives.  The  previous 
delay  and  the  prompt  and  unanimous  approval  of  the  com- 
promise measure  of  Mr.  Dane  give  force  to  the  contention 
of  a  special  student  of  the  Ordinance,  that  the  stipulation 
forbidding  slavery  could  not  have  been  adopted  without  the 
provision  for  the  recovery  of  runaways.^ 

About  six  weeks  after  the  incorporation,  by  the  Conti- 
nental Congress,  of  the  fugitive  slave  clause  in  the  North- 
west Ordinance,  a  similar  provision  was  made  a  part  of  the 
Constitution  of  the  United  States  by  the  vote  of  the  Federal 
Convention  at  Philadelphia.  ^  In  the  case  of  the  Constitu- 
tion, as  of  the  Ordinance,  the  clause  was  probably  necessary 
for  the  acceptance  and  adoption  of  the  instrument,  and  the 
action  of  the  legislative  body  was  unanimous.^ 

1  Peter  Force,  on  the  Ordinance  of  1787,  in  the  National  Intelligencer, 
1847.  See  also  E.  B.  Chase's  volume,  entitled  Teachings  of  Patriots  and 
Statesmen,  or  the  "Founders  of  the  Mepublio"  on  Slavery,  1860,  pp.  156, 160, 
161,  169. 

2  E.  B.  Chase,  Teachings  of  Patriots  and  Statesmen  .  .  .  on  Slavery,  p.  9. 
'  Alexander  Johnston's  careful  survey  of  the  subject  in  the  New  Princeton 

Beview,  Vol.  IV,  p.  183 ;  J.  H.  Merriam,  Legislative  History  of  the  Ordi- 
nance of  1787,  "Worcester,  1888  ;  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  64. 


The  settlement  reached  in  regard  to  fugitives  appears  to 
have  excited  little  comment  in  the  various  state  conventions 
called  to  ratify  the  work  of  the  Philadelphia  Convention. 
It  would  be  interesting  to  know  what  was  the  nature  of  the 
discussion  on  the  point  in  the  North.  In  the  South  the  tone 
of  sentiment  concerning  the  matter  is  illustrated  by  the 
remarks  of  Madison  in  the  Virginia  convention,  and  of  Ire- 
dell and  Pinckney  in  the  conventions  of  North  and  South 
Carolina  respectively.^  Madison  asserted  of  the  fugitive 
clause  that  it  "  secures  to  us  that  property  which  we  now 
possess."  Iredell  explained  that  "In  some  of  the  Northern 
states  they  have  emancipated  all  their  slaves.  If  any  of 
our  slaves  go  there  and  remain  there  a  certain  time,  they 
would,  by  the  present  laws,  be  entitled  to  their  freedom,  so 
that  their  masters  could  not  get  them  again.  This  would 
be  extremely  prejudicial  to  the  inhabitants  of  the  Southern 
states  ;  and  to  prevent  it  this  clause  is  inserted  in  the  Con- 
stitution. Though  the  word  slave  is  not  mentioned,  this  is 
the  meaning  of  it."  Pinckney  declared:  "We  have  ob- 
tained a  right  to  recover  our  slaves,  in  whatever  part  of 
America  they  may  take  refuge,  which  is  a  right  we  had  not 
before.  In  short,  considering  the  circumstances,  we  have 
made  the  best  terms  for  the  security  of  this  species  of  prop- 
erty it  was  in  our  power  to  make.  We  would  have  made 
better  if  we  could ;  but,  on  the  whole,  I  do  not  think  them 
bad."  2 

The  constitutional  provision  was,  of  course,  general  in  its 
terms,  and,  although  mandatory  in  form,  did  not  designate 
any  particular  officer  or  branch  of  government  to  put  it  into 
execution.  Accordingly  the  law  of  1793  was  enacted.  This 
law,  however,  was  of  such  a  character  as  to  defeat  itself  from 
the  beginning.  Before  the  close  of  the  year  in  which  the 
measure  was  passed  a  case  of  resistance  occurred,  which 
showed  that  adverse  sentiment  existed  in  Massachusetts,^ 

1  These  views  are  quoted  by  E.  B.  Chase,  in  his  Teachings  of  Patriots  and 
Statesmen  .  .  .  on  Slavery. 

»  Ibid.    See  also  ElUot's  Debates,  Vol.  Ill,  182,  277. 

'  Appendix  B,  p.  367,  6.  First  recorded  case  of  rescue  (Quincy's  case, 


and  three  years  later  another  case  —  especially  interesting 
because  it  concerned  an  escaped  slave  of  Washington  — 
demonstrated  to  the  first  President  that  there  was  strong 
opposition  in  New  Hampshire  to  the  law.^  The  method  of 
proof  prescribed  by  the  measure  was  intended  to  facilitate 
the  recovery  of  fugitives,  but  it  was  so  slack  that  it  encour- 
aged the  abduction  of  free  negroes  from  the  Northern  states,^ 
and  thus,  by  the  injustice  it  wrought,  stirred  many  to  give 
protection  and  assistance  to  negroes.^  The  number  of  cases 
of  kidnapping  that  occurred  along  the  southern  border  of 
the  free  states  between  1793  and  1850  helps  doubtless  to  ex- 
plain the  development  of  numerous  initial  stations  of  the 
Underground  Railroad  during  this  period. 

The  inefficiency  of  the  first  Fugitive  Slave  Act  was  early 
recognized,  and  the  period  during  which  it  was  in  existence 
witnessed  many  attempts  at  amendment.  It  is  possible  that 
the  failure  of  Washington  to  recover  his  slave  in  1796  fur- 
nished the  occasion  for  the  fii-st  of  these.*  A  motion  was 
made,  December  29,  1796,  looking  toward  the  alteration  of 
the  law.*  Apparently  nothing  was  done  at  this  time,  and 
the  matter  lapsed  until  1801,  when  it  came  up  in  January 
and  again  in  December  of  that  year.®  In  the  month  last 
named  a  committee  was  appointed  in  the  House,  which 
reported  a  bill  that  gave  rise  to  considerable  debate.  This 
bUl  provided  that  emplopng  a  fugitive  as  well  as  harboring 
one  should  be  punishable  ;  and  that  those  furnishing  employ- 
ment to  negroes  must  require  them  to  show  official  certificates 
and  must  publish  descriptions  of  them.  It  is  reported  that 
Southern  members  "  considered  it  a  great  injury  to  the  own- 
ers of  that  species  of  property,  that  runaways  were  employed 
in  the  Middle  and  Northern  states,  and  even  assisted  in  pro- 

'  Appendix  B,  p.  367.     Washington's  fugitive,  October,  1796. 

"  Chapter  n,  p.  22  ;  Chapter  V,  p.  120. 

» Ibid. 

*  William  Goodell,  Slavery  and  Anti-Slavery,  pp.  231,  232. 

'  Souse  Journal,  Fourth  Congress,  Second  Session,  p.  65 ;  Annals  of  Con- 
gress, pp.  1741,  1767. 

°  Souse  Journal,  Sixth  Congress,  Second  Session,  p.  220 ;  Annals  of  Con- 
gress, p.  1053;  Souse  Journal,  Seventh  Congress,  First  Session,  p.  34 ;  Annals 
of  Congress,  p.  317. 


curing  a  living.  They  stated  that,  when  slaves  ran  away 
and  were  not  recovered,  it  excited  discontent  among  the  rest. 
"When  they  were  caught  and  brought  home,  they  informed 
their  comrades  how  well  they  were  received  and  assisted, 
which  excited  a  disposition  in  others  to  attempt  escaping, 
and  obliged  their  masters  to  use  greater  severity  than  they 
otherwise  would.  It  was,  they  said,  even  on  the  score  of 
humanity,  good  policy  in  those  opposed  to  slavery  to  agree 
to  this  law."i  Northern  members  did  not  accept  this  view 
of  the  fugitive  slave  question,  and  when  the  proposed  bill 
was  put  to  vote  January  18,  1802,  it  failed  of  passage.^  The 
division  on  the  measure  took  place  on  sectional  grounds,  all 
the  Northern  members  but  five  voting  against  it,  all  the 
Southern  members  but  two  for  it.^ 

For  the  next  fifteen  years  Congress  appears  to  have  given 
no  consideration  to  the  propriety  of  amending  the  law  of 
1793.  Its  attention  was  mainly  occupied  by  the  abolition  of 
the  slave-trade,  the  agitation  preliminary  to  the  War  of  1812, 
and  the  events  of  that  War.*  At  length,  in  1817,  a  Senate 
committee  reported  a  bill  to  revise  the  law,  but  it  was  never 
brought  up  for  consideration.  In  the  same  year  a  bill  was 
drafted  and  presented  to  the  House,  on  account  of  the  need 
of  a  remedy  for  the  increased  insecurity  of  slave  property  in 
the  border  slave  states.  Pindall,  of  Virginia,  seems  to  have 
been  its  originator  ;  at  any  rate  he  was  the  chairman  of  the 
committee  that  reported  the  proposition.  The  interest  in 
the  discussion  that  resulted  was  increased,  doubtless,  by  two 
petitions,  one  from  the  Pennsylvania  Abolition  Society,  ask- 
ing for  a  milder  law  than  that  in  existence,  the  other  from 
the  Baltimore  Quakers,  seeking  some  security  for  free  negroes 
against  kidnapping. 

The  House  bill  as  presented  in  1817  secured  to  the  claim- 
ant of  a  runaway  the  right  to  prove  his  title  before  the  courts 

1  House  Journal,  Seventh  Congress,  First  Session,  p.  125  ;  Annals  of  Con- 
gress, pp.  422,  423. 

2  The  vote  stood  46  to  43. 

'  Souse  Journal,  Seventh  Congress,  First  Session,  pp.  125,  128  ;  Annals  of 
Congress,  pp.  423,  426. 

*  W.  E.  B.  Du  Bois,  The  Suppression  of  the  American  Slave  Trade, 
pp.  105-109. 


of  his  own  state,  and  thus  to  reclaim  his  human  property 
through  requisition  upon  the  governor  of  the  state  in  which 
it  had  taken  refuge;  it  was  further  provided  that  the  writ 
of  habeas  corpus  was  to  have  no  force  as  against  the  provi- 
sions of  the  proposed  act.  The  objections  made  to  the 
measure  are  worth  noting.  Mr.  Holmes,  of  Massachusetts, 
disapproved  of  the  effort  to  dispense  with  the  writ  of  habeas 
corpus,  stating  that  such  action  would  remove  a  safeguard 
from  the  liberty  of  free  colored  people.  Mr.  Mason,  of  the 
same  state,  declared  against  trial  by  jury,  which  somebody 
had  proposed,  insisting  that  "  juries  in  Massachusetts  would 
in  ninety-nine  cases  out  of  one  hundred  decide  in  favor  of 
fugitives,  and  he  did  not  wish  his  town  (Boston)  infected 
with  the  runaways  of  the  South."  Mr.  Sergeant,  of  Penn- 
sylvania, sought  to  amend  the  bill  by  making  the  judges 
of  the  state  in  which  the  arrest  occurred  the  tribunal  to 
decide  the  fact  of  slavery.  And,  last  of  all,  Mr.  Whitman, 
of  Massachusetts,  opposed  the  provision  making  it  a  penal 
offence  for  a  state  of&cer  to  decline  to  execute  the  act ; 
a  point,  it  should  be  remarked,  that  came  into  prominence 
in  the  famous  case  of  Prigg  vs.  Pennsylvania  in  1842. 
Notwithstanding  these  efforts  to  modify  the  bill,  it  was 
carried  without  change,  January  30,  1818,  by  a  vote  of  84 
to  69.  In  the  Senate  the  bill  was  not  passed  without 
alteration.  After  a  vote  to  limit  the  act  to  four  years, 
the  upper  House  made  amendments  requiring  some  proofs 
of  the  debt  of  service  claimed  other  than  the  affidavit  of 
the  claimant,  and  then  passed  the  act  on  March  12.  The 
lower  House  did  not  find  the  modified  bill  to  its  liking,  and 
therefore  declined  to  consider  it  further.^ 

This  failure  to  secure  a  new  general  fugitive  slave  act  by 
no  means  prevented  those  interested  from  renewing  their 

1  Souse  Journal,  Fifteenth  Congress,  First  Session,  pp.  50,  86, 182,  186, 
189,  pp.  193,  198 ;  Annals  of  Congress,  pp.  446,  447,  513,  829-831,  838,  840, 
1339,  1393.  Senate  Journal,  Fifteentli  Congress,  First  Session,  pp.  128, 135, 
174,  202,  227,  228,  233  ;  House  Journal,  p.  328  ;  Annals  of  Congress,  pp.  165, 
210,  259,  262,  1339,  1716  ;  T.  H.  Benton,  Abridgment  of  the  Debates  of  Con- 
gress, Vol.  VI,  pp.  35,  36,  37, 110 ;  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  pp.  21- 
23 ;  Lalor's  Cyclopoedia,  Vol.  II,  pp.  315,  316  ;  Sohouler,  History  of  the  United 
States,  Vol.  ni,  p.  144. 


endeavors  in  that  direction.  Before  the  close  of  the  year 
the  House  was  prompted  to  bestir  itself  again  by  a  resolu- 
tion of  the  Maryland  legislature  asking  protection  against 
citizens  of  Pennsylvania  who  were  charged  with  harboring 
and  protecting  fugitive  slaves.^  That  the  allegation  was 
well  founded  cannot  be  doubted.  Evidence  has  already 
been  adduced  to  show  that  numerous  branches  of  the  Under- 
ground Railroad  had  begun  to  develop  in  southeastern  Penn- 
sylvania as  early  at  least  as  the  year  I8OO.2  A  month  after 
the  presentation  of  the  Maryland  resolution  a  committee  of 
the  House  was  appointed.  This  committee  reported  a  bill 
without  delay,  but  again  nothing  was  accomplished.  The 
framing  of  the  Missouri  Compromise  at  the  next  session  of 
Congress,  in  1820,  gave  opportunity  for  the  incorporation  of 
a  fugitive  recovery  clause,  to  enable  Southern  settlers  in 
Missouri  and  other  slave  states  to  recapture  their  absconding 
slaves  from  the  free  territory  north  of  the  new  state. ^  The 
fugitive  clause  in  the  Ordinance  of  1787  had  insured  the 
same  right  for  slave-owners  taking  land  along  the  western 
frontier  of  Illinois. 

But  of  what  utility  were  such  provisions  unless  they  could 
be  carried  into  effect  ?  Immediately  after  the  Missouri 
Compromise  became  a  law,  propositions  for  new  fugitive 
slave  acts  were  again  offered  in  both  the  House  and  the 
Senate.*  A  later  attempt  was  made  in  the  winter  of  1821- 
1822,  when  another  resolution  of  the  Maryland  legislature 
similar  to  the  one  mentioned  above  was  presented.  These 
efforts,  like  the  earlier  ones,  failed  to  secure  the  desired 

-  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  23. 

2  Chapter  II,  pp.  21,  22. 

'  Annals  of  Congress,  Sixteenth  Congress,  First  Session,  pp.  1469, 1587. 
McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  23.  It  will  be  rememtiered  that  according  to 
the  compromise  Missouri  was  to  he  admitted  into  the  Union  as  a  slave  state, 
while  slavery  was  to  be  prohibited  in  all  other  territory  gained  from  France 
north  of  36  degrees  30  minutes.     See  Appendix  A,  p.  361. 

*  House  Journal,  Sixteenth  Congress,  First  Session,  p.  427. 

5  Senate  Journal,  Sixteenth  Congress,  First  Session,  pp.  319,  326 ;  Annals 
of  Congress,  p.  618  ;  House  Journal,  Seventeenth  Congress,  First  Session, 
p.  143  ;  Annals  of  Congress,  pp.  553,  558,  710.  Annals  of  Congress,  Seven- 
teenth Congress,  First  Session,  pp.  1379,  1415,  1444 ;  Benton,  Abridgment 


The  last  petition  of  Maryland  to  Congress  for  the  redress 
of  her  grievance  due  to  the  underground  operations  of 
anti-slavery  Pennsylvanians  was  made  December  17,  1821. 
The  month  of  January  of  the  same  year  had  witnessed  the 
presentation  in  Congress  of  a  resolution  from  the  general 
assembly  of  Kentucky,  protesting  against  Canada's  admis- 
sion of  fugitives  to  her  domain,  and  requesting  negotiation 
with  Great  Britain  on  the  subject.  In  1826,  during  the 
administration  of  John  Quincy  Adams,  negotiations  were  at 
length  opened.  Henry  Clay,  then  Secretary  of  State,  in- 
structed Mr.  Gallatin,  the  American  Minister  at  the  Court 
of  St.  James,  to  propose  an  agreement  between  the  two 
countries  providing  for  "mutual  surrender  of  aU  persons 
held  to  service  or  labor,  under  the  laws  of  either  party, 
who  escape  into  the  territory  of  the  other."  His  purpose  in 
urging  such  a  stipulation  was,  he  declared,  "  to  provide  for  a 
growing  evil  which  has  produced  some,  and  if  it  be  not 
shortly  checked,  is  likely  to  produce  much  more  irritation." 
He  also  stated  that  Virginia  and  Kentucky  were  particularly 
anxious  that  an  understanding  should  be  reached. 

In  February,  1827,  Mr.  Clay  again  communicated  with 
Mr.  Gallatin  on  the  subject,  being  led  to  do  so  by  another 
appeal  made  to  the  general  government  by  the  legislature  of 
Kentucky.  At  this  time  he  mentioned  the  fact  that  a  pro- 
vision for  the  restoration  of  fugitive  slaves  had  been  inserted 
in  the  treaty  recently  concluded  with  the  United  Mexican 
States,  a  treaty,  it  should  be  added,  that  faUed  of  confirma- 
tion by  the  Mexican  Senate.  About  five  months  later  the 
American  Minister  sent  word  to  the  Secretary  of  State  that 
the  English  authorities  had  decided  that  "It  was  utterly 
impossible  for  them  to  agree  to  a  stipulation  for  the  sur- 
render of  fugitive  slaves,"  and  this  decision  was  reaffirmed 
in  September,  1827. 

The  positive  terms  in  which  this  conclusion  was  announced 
by  the  representative  of  the  British  government  might  have 
been  accepted  as  final  at  this  time  had  not  further  considera- 
tion of  the  question  been  demanded  by  the  House  of  Rep- 

0/  the  Debates  of  Congress,  Vol.  VI,  p.  296 ;  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves, 
pp.  23,  24. 


resentatives.  On  May  10,  1828,  that  body  adopted  a 
resolution  "requesting  the  President  to  open  a  negotiation 
with  the  British  government  in  the  view  to  obtain  an 
arrangement  whereby  fugitive  slaves,  who  have  taken  refuge 
in  the  Canadian  provinces  of  that  government,  may  be 
surrendered  by  the  functionaries  thereof  to  their  masters, 
upon  their  making  satisfactory  proof  of  their  ownership  of 
said  slaves."  This  resolution  was  promptly  transmitted  to 
Mr.  Barbour,  the  new  Minister,  with  the  explanation  before 
made  to  Gallatin,  that  the  evil  at  which  it  was  directed  was  a 
growing  one,  well  calculated  to  disturb  "  the  good  neighbor- 
hood" that  the  United  States  desired  to  maintain  with  the 
adjacent  British  provinces.  But  as  in  the  case  of  the  former 
attempts  to  secure  the  extradition  of  the  refugee  settlers  in 
Canada,  so  also  in  this,  the  advances  of  the  American  gov- 
ernment were  met  by  the  persistent  refusal  of  Great  Britain 
to  make  a  satisfactory  answer.  ^ 

The  agitation  in  Congress  for  a  more  effective  fugitive 
slave  law,  and  the  diplomatic  negotiations  for  the  recovery 
of  runaways  from  Canadian  soil,  which  have  been  recounted 
in  the  preceding  pages,  must  be  regarded  as  furnishing  evi- 
dence of  the  existence  in  many  localities  in  the  free  states 
of  a  strong  practical  anti-slavery  sentiment.  This  evidence 
is  reenforced  by  the  facts  presented  in  the  earlier  chapters 
of  this  volume.  The  escape  of  slaves  from  their  masters 
into  the  free  states  and  their  simple  but  impressive  appeals 
for  liberty  were  phenomena  witnessed  again  and  again  by 
many  Northern  people  during  the  opening  as  well  as  the 
later  decades  of  the  nineteenth  century ;  and  deepened  the 
conviction  in  their  minds  that  slavery  was  wrong.  Thus 
for  years  the  runaway  slave  was  a  missionary  in  the  cause 
of  freedom,  especially  in  the  rapidly  settling  Western  states. 
His  heroic  pilgrimage,  undertaken  under  the  greatest  diffi- 
culties, was  calculated  to  excite  active  interest  in  his  behalf. 
Persons  living  along  the  border  of  the  slave  states,  whose 
sympathies  were  stirred  to  action  by  their  personal  know- 

1  Niles'  Weekly  Register,  Vol.  XXXV,  pp.  289-291 ;  S.  G.  Howe,  The 
Refugees  from  Slavery  in  Canada  West,  pp.  12-14  ;  William  Goodell,  Slavery 
and  Anti-Slavery,  p.  264 ;  M.  G.  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  25. 


ledge  of  the  hardsliips  of  slavery,  became  the  promoters  of 
Unas  of  Underground  Railroad,  sending  or  taking  fugitives 
northward  to  friends  they  could  trust.  It  was  not  an  infre- 
quent occurrence  that  intimate  neighbors  were  called  in  to 
hear  the  thrilling  tales  of  escape  related  in  the  picturesque 
and  fervid  language  of  negroes  that  valued  liberty  more 
than  life.  The  writer,  who  has  heard  some  of  these  stories 
from  the  lips  of  surviving  refugees  in  Canada,  can  well 
understand  the  effect  they  must  have  produced  upon  the 
minds  of  the  spectators.  Many  children  got  their  lasting 
impression  of  slavery  from  the  things  they  saw  and  heard 
in  homes  that  were  stations  on  the  Underground  Road. 
John  Brown  was  reared  in  such  a  home.  His  father,  Owen 
Brown,  was  among  the  earliest  settlers  of  the  Western  Re- 
serve in  Ohio  that  are  known  to  have  harbored  fugitives, 
and  the  son  followed  the  f atl^r's  example  in  keeping  open 
house  for  runaway  slaves.^  As  early  as  1815  many  blacks 
began  to  find  their  way  across  the  Reserve,^  and  it  is  stated 
that  even  before  this  year  more  than  a  thousand  fugitives 
had  been  assisted  on  their  way  to  Canada  by  a  few  anti- 
slavery  people  of  Brown  County  in  southwestern  Ohio.^  It 
is  probable  that  numerous  escapes  were  also  being  made 
thus  early  through  other  settled  regions.  The  cause  for  this 
early  exodus  is  not  far  to  seek.  The  increase  of  the  domes- 
tic slave-trade  from  the  northern  belt  of  slaveholding  states 
to  the  extreme  South,  due  to  the  profitableness  of  cotton- 
raising,  and  stimulated  by  the  prohibition  of  the  foreign 
slave-trade  in  1807,  aroused  slaves  to  flight  in  order  to  avoid 
being  sold  to  unknown  masters  in  remote  regions.  The 
slight  knowledge  they  needed  to  guide  them  in  a  northerly 
course  was  easily  obtainable  through  the  rumors  about  Can- 
ada everywhere  current  during  the  War  of  1812.*  The  no- 
ticeable political  effects  of  the  straggling  migration  that 
began  under  these  circumstances  is  seen  in  the  renewed  agi- 
tation by  Southern  members  of  Congress  during  the  years 
1817  to  1822  for  a  more  stringent  Fugitive  Slave  Law,  and 

1  Chapter  II,  p.  37.  ^  Ibid.,  pp.  37,  38. 

»  William  Bimey,  James  Q.  Birney  and  His  Times,  p.  435. 
«  Chapter  H,  p.  27. 


the  negotiations  with  England  several  years  later  looking 
toward  the  restoration  to  the  South  of  runaways  who  had 
found  freedom  and  security  on  Canadian  soil. 

The  influence  of  the  Underground  Road  in  spreading 
abroad  an  abiding  anti-slavery  sentiment  was,  of  course, 
greatly  restricted  by  the  caution  its  operators  had  to  ob- 
serve to  keep  themselves  and  their  prot^g^s  out  of  trouble. 
The  deviating  secret  routes  of  the  great  system  were  devel- 
oped in  response  to  the  need  of  passengers  that  were  in  con- 
stant danger  of  pursuit.  It  is  this  fact  of  the  pursuit  of 
runaways  into  various  communities  where  they  were  sup- 
posed to  be  in  hiding,  together  with  the  harsh  scenes  enacted 
by  hireling  slave-catchers  in  raiding  some  station  of  the  Un- 
derground Road,  that  gave  to  the  operations  of  the  Road  that 
publicity  necessary  to  make  converts  to  the  anti-slavery  cause. 
During  the  earlier  years  of  the  Road's  development  the  pur- 
suit of  runaways  was  not  so  common  as  it  came  to  be  after 
1840,  and  later,  after  the  passage  of  the  second  Fugitive  Slave 
Law  in  1850 ;  but  cases  are  recorded,  as  already  noted,  in  1793 
in  Boston,  1804  in  eastern  Pennsylvania,  1818  in  New  Bed- 
ford, Massachusetts,  and  elsewhere.  These  are  but  illustrar 
tions  of  a  class  of  early  cases  that  brought  the  question  of 
slavery  home  to  many  Northern  communities  with  such  force 
as  could  not  have  been  done  in  any  other  way.  These  cases, 
like  the  numerous  cases  of  kidnapping  that  occurred  during 
the  same  period,  contributed  not  a  little  to  keep  alive  a  senti- 
ment that  was  steadily  opposed  to  slavery,  and  that  expressed 
and  strengthened  itself  in  the  practice  of  harboring  and  pro- 
tecting fugitives.  /  The  great  effect  upon  public  opinion  of 
these  cases,  and  such  as  these,  appears  from  the  sad  affair  of 
Margaret  Garner,  a  slave-woman  who  escaped  from  Boone 
County,  Kentucky,  late  in  January,  1856,  and  found  shelter 
with  her  four  children  in  the  house  of  a  colored  man  near 
Cincinnati,  Ohio.  Rather  than  see  her  offspring  doomed  to 
the  fate  from  which  she  had  hoped  to  save  them,  she  nerved 
herself  to  accomplish  their  death.  While  her  master,  suc- 
cessful in  his  pursuit,  was  preparing  to  take  them  back  across 
the  river,  she  began  the  work  of  butchery  by  killing  her  favor- 
ite child.     Before  she  could  finish  her  awful  task  she  was 


interrupted  and  put  in  prison.  The  efforts  to  prevent  her 
return  to  Southern  bondage  proved  unavailing,  and  she  was 
at  length  delivered  to  her  master,  together  with  the  children 
she  had  meant  to  kill.  President  R.  B.  Hayes,  who  was 
practising  law  in  Cincinnati  at  the  time,  and  lived  on  a  pro- 
slavery  street,  told  Professor  James  Monroe,  of  Oberlin  Col- 
lege, that  the  tragedy  converted  "  the  whole  street,"  and  that 
the  day  after  the  murder  "a  leader  among  his  pro-slavery 
neighbors"  called  at  his  house,  and  declared  with  great 
fervor,  "Mr.  Hayes,  hereafter  I  am  with  you.  From  this 
time  forward,  I  will  not  only  be  a  black  Republican,  but  I 
will  be  a  damned  abolitionist !  "  ^    ' 

That  the  doctrine  of  immediate  abolition  should  find  ex- 
pression during  the  years  in  which  the  underground  move- 
ment was  in  its  initial  stage  of  development,  is  a  fact  the 
importance  of  which  should  be  given  due  recognition  in 
tracing  the  growth  of  anti-slavery  sentiment  to  1830,  and  in 
showing  thus  what  was  the  preparation  of  the  North  for  the 
advent  of  Garrison  and  his  followers,  and  for  the  party  move- 
ments in  opposition  to  slavery.  It  is  surely  worthy  of  remark 
in  this  connection  that,  of  the  three  men  that  promulgated 
the  idea  of  immediate  abolition  before  1830,  one  published  a 
book,  containing,  besides  other  things,  an  argument  in  sup- 
port of  the  assistance  rendered  to  fugitive  slaves,  while  an- 
other was  known  both  in  Ohio  and  in  the  Southern  states  as 
an  intrepid  underground  operator. 

Of  the  trio  the  first  in  point  of  time  as  also  in  pungency  of 
statement  was  the  Rev.  George  Bourne,  who  went  to  live  in 
Virginia  about  1809  after  several  years  residence  in  Maryland. 
Mr.  Bourne's  acquaintance  with  slavery  impressed  him  deeply 
with  the  evils  of  the  system,  and  he  accordingly  felt  con- 
strained to  preach  and  also  to  publish  some  vehement  protests 
against  it.  For  this  he  was  persecuted  and  driven  from  Vir- 
ginia, and,  like  a  hunted  slave,  he  found  his  way  in  the  night 
into  Pennsylvania,  where  he  settled  with  his  family.  Among 
his  writings  is  a  small  volume  entitled  The  Book  and  Slavery 
Irreconcilable,  published  in  1816  and  addressed  to  all   that 

^  James  Monroe,  Oberlin  Thursday  Lectures,  Addresses,  and  Essays,  1897, 
p.  116.     See  Appendix  B,  pp.  367-377,  for  cases  under  the  Slave  laws. 


professed  to  be  members  of  Christian  churches.  In  it  the 
author  vigorously  and  repeatedly  urged  the  "  immediate  and 
total  abolition  "  of  slavery,  and  warned  his  contemporaries  of 
the  consequences  of  continuing  the  system  until  by  its  growth 
it  should  endanger  the  Union.  He  could  discover  no  pallia- 
tive suitable  to  the  evil.  "  The  system  is  so  entirely  corrupt," 
he  said, "  that  it  admits  of  no  cure  but  by  a  total  and  immediate 
abolition.  For  a  gradual  emancipation  is  a  virtual  recognition 
of  the  right,  and  establishes  the  rectitude  of  the  practice.  If 
it  be  just  for  one  moment,  it  is  hallowed  forever ;  and  if  it  be 
inequitable,  not  a  day  should  it  be  tolerated."  ^ 

Eight  years  after  the  appearance  of  the  book  containing 
these  uncompromising  views,  a  treatise  was  published  at  the 
town  of  Vevay  on  the  Ohio  River  in  southeastern  Indiana 
by  the  Rev.  James  Duncan.  This  small  work  was  entitled 
A  Treatise  on  Slavery,  in  which  is  shown  forth  the  Hvil  of 
Slaveholding,  both  from  the  Light  of  Nature  and  Divine  Reve- 
lation. The  purpose  of  the  work  as  set  forth  by  the  author 
was  to  persuade  all  slaveholders  that  they  were  "  guilty  of 
a  crime,  not  only  of  the  highest  aggravation,  but  one  that, 
if  persisted  in,"  would  "  inevitably  lead  them  to  perdition."  "^ 
He  therefore  assailed  the  principle  of  slavery,  denying  the 
argument  admitted  by  some  of  the  apologists  for  slavery 
among  his  contemporaries,  namely,  "that  the  emancipation 
of  slaves  need  not  be  sudden,  but  gradual,  lest  the  possessors 
of  them  should  be  too  much  impoverished,  and  lest  the  free 
inhabitants  might  be  exposed  to  danger,  if  the  blacks  were 
all  liberated  at  once."  This  doctrine  of  the  inexpediency  of 
immediate  abolition  Mr.  Duncan  denied,  taking  the  position 
that  such  excuses  would  "  go  to  justify  the  practice  of  slave- 
holding,  because  the  only  motive  that  men  can  have  to  prac- 
tise slavery  is  that  it  may  be  a  means  of  preventing  poverty 
and  other  penal  evils.    If  the  fear  of  poverty  or  any  penal 

1  These  quotations  are  taken  from  the  summary  of  Bourne's  The  Booh 
and  Slavery  Irreconcilable,  given  in  the  Boston  Commonwealth,  July  25, 1885, 
since  the  original  was  inaccessible  to  the  present  writer.  The  summary  ia 
known  to  be  trustworthy.  See  The  Life  of  Garrison,  by  his  children,  Vol.  I, 
postscript  to  the  Preface,  and  the  references  to  the  original  there  given. 

2  Preface,  p.  viii. 


sufferings  will  exculpate  tte  possessors  of  slaves  from  blame 
for  a  few  months  or  years,  it  will  do  it  for  life ;  and  if  some 
may  be  lawfully  held  to  labor  without  wages,  all  may  be 
held  the  same  way  ;  and  if  the  principle  of  slavery  is  morally 
wrong,  it  ought  not  to  be  practised  to  avoid  any  penal  evil, 
hut  if  just,  even  the  cruel  treatment  of  slaves  would  not  con- 
demn the  practice."  ^  He  maintained  that,  although  the  dif- 
ferent sections  of  the  country  were  not  equally  guUty  of  the 
sins  of  slaveholding,  yet  the  nation  as  a  whole  was  respon- 
sible for  the  evil,  —  on  account  of  the  number  in  the  free 
states  that  were  friendly  to  slavery,  on  account  also  of  the 
advocacy  by  Northern  representatives  of  the  policy  of  slavery 
extension,  and,  finally,  on  account  of  the  slack  zeal  of  some 
of  those  inimical  to  the  institution.^  He  proposed  that  Chris- 
tians should  have  no  church  fellowship  with  slaveholders ;  he 
urged  political  action  against  slavery ;  and  he  supplemented 
the  assertion  that  it  was  the  duty  of  slaves  to  escape  if  they 
could,  by  the  statement  that  it  was  impossible  for  any  one  to 
hinder  or  prevent  their  escape  without  flying  in  the  face  of 
the  moral  law.^  As  regards  gradualism,  which  was  practised 
in  some  states,  he  said :  "  If  it  is  lawful  to  hold  a  man  in 
bondage  until  he  is  twenty-eight  years  of  age,  it  must  be 
equally  lawful  to  hold  him  to  the  day  of  his  death ;  and  if 
it  is  sinful  to  hold  him  to  the  day  of  his  death,  it  must  par- 
take of  the  same  species  of  crime  to  hold  him  until  he  is 

1  Preface,  pp.  vii,  viii. 

2  A  Treatise,  on  Slavery,  reprinted  by  the  American  Anti-Slavery  Society, 
1840,  p.  59. 

^  Ibid.,  p.  107.  In  advocating  political  action  Mr.  Duncan  said,  "The 
practice  of  slaveholding  in  a  slave  state  need  not  deter  emancipators  or  others 
from  the  privilege  of  voting  for  candidates  to  the  legislative  bodies,  or  from 
using  their  best  endeavors  to  have  men  placed  in  office  that  would  be  favor- 
able to  the  cause  of  freedom,  and  yrho  may  be  best  qualified  to  govern  the 
state  or  commonwealth,  but  it  ought  to  prevent  any  from  officiating  as  a 
magistrate,  when  his  commission  authorizes  him  to  issue  a  warrant  to  appre- 
hend the  slave  when  he  is  guilty  of  no  other  crime  than  that  of  running  away 
from  unmerited  bondage."  This  was  not  the  first  time  political  action  was 
proposed,  for  Mr.  Bourne  declared  in  his  work  (The  Book  and  Slavery 
Irreconcilable')  :  "Every  voter  for  a  public  officer  who  will  not  destroy  the 
system,  is  as  culpable  as  if  he  participated  in  the  evil,  and  is  responsible  for 
the  protraction  of  the  crime."  See  the  Boston  Commonwealth,  July  25, 


twenty-eight."  1  The  arguments  in  support  of  his  position 
he  based  largely  upon  the  Decalogue,  the  Golden  Rule  and 
other  scriptural  injunctions,  as  well  as  upon  the  Declaration 
of  Independence  and  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States.^ 
Underground  operators  always  justified  themselves  on  these 
grounds ;  and  their  motives  in  joining  the  Liberty  and  Free 
Soil  parties  later  — as  many  of  them  did  —  appear  not  to  have 
been  other  than  the  motives  of  Bourne  and  Duncan  in  advo- 
cating political  action  against  slavery. 

The  last  member  of  the  trio  who  complained  of  delay  in 
granting  freedom  to  the  enslaved  was  the  Rev.  John  Rankin, 
the  pastor  of  a  Presbyterian  church  in  the  town  of  Ripley  on 
the  Ohio  River  in  southwestern  Ohio.  Long  residence  in 
Tennessee  and  Kentucky  had  filled  him  with  hatred  of  sla- 
very, and  for  this  hatred  he  gave  his  reasons  in  a  series  of 
thirteen  vigorous  letters  addressed  to  his  brother  Thomas, 
a  merchant  at  Middlebrook,  Augusta  County,  Virginia,  who 
had  recently  become  a  slave-owner.  The  letters  were  writ- 
ten in  1824,  and  were  collected  in  a  little  volume  in  1826. 
In  the  preface,  Mr.  Rankin  said  that  the  safety  of  the  govern- 
ment and  the  happiness  of  its  subjects  depended  upon  the 
extermination  of  slavery,^  and  in  the  letters  themselves  he 
attacked  the  system  of  American  slavery  in  unmistakable 
language.  In  principle  he  stood  clearly  with  Bourne  and 
Duncan,  as  he  afterwards  came  to  the  support  of  Garrison, 
although  he  did  not  use  the  words  "immediate  abolition." 
He  held  that  "  Avarice  tends  to  enslave,  but  justice  requires 
emancipation."*  He  heard  with  impatience  the  excuse  for 
continued  slaveholding  that  freedom  would  ruin  the  blacks 
because  they  were  not  capable  of  doing  for  themselves,  and 
must,  therefore,  either  all  starve  or  steal.  With  sarcasm  he 
exclaimed,  "  Immaculate  tenderness !  Astonishing  sympathy ! 
But  what  is  to  be  dreaded  more  than  such  tenderness  and 
sympathy  ?     Who  would  wish  to  have  them  exercised  upon 

'  A  Treatise  on  Slavery,  p.  123. 

2  Ibid.,  pp.  21,  32-40,  82,  84,  87-94,  96,  107.  Mr.  Duncan  held  that 
slavery  was  "  directly  contrary  to  the  Federal  Constitution."  See  pp.  110, 

^  Letters  on  American  Slavery,  Preface,  p.  iii.  *  Ibid.,  p.  20. 


(From  a  bust  by  Ellen  Eankin  Copp,  of  Chicag-o,  Illinois.) 


himself?  .  .  .  And  have  not  many  of  those  [slaves]  who 
have  been  emancipated  in  America  become  wealthy  and  good 
citizens?  .  .  .  We  are  commanded  to  'do  justly  and  love 
mercy,'  and  this  we  ought  to  do  without  delay,  and  leave 
the  consequences  attending  it  to  the  control  of  Him  who 
gave  the  command."  ^  It  has  been  noted  in  another  place 
that  Mr.  Rankin  was  for  years  an  active  agent  of  the  Un- 
derground Railroad,  in  association  with  a  number  of  aboli- 
tionists of  his  neighborhood,  among  whom  he  was  a  recognized 

The  idea  has  somehow  gained  credence  in  the  general 
accounts  of  the  anti-slavery  movement  that  the  Garrisonian 
movement  was  one  that  could  scarcely  be  said  to  have 
had  precursors  in  the  earlier  agitation ;  and  the  pre-Garrison 
abolitionists  have  been  thought  of,  apparently,  as  marked  by 
mild  philanthropy,  adherence  to  law  and  tolerance.  It  has 
been  supposed  that  an  interval  of  inactivity  followed  upon 
the  earlier  movements,  and  that  the  later  movement  was  thus 
a  thing  apart,  radically  different  in  its  character  from  any- 
thing that  had  gone  before.  In  view  of  the  evidence  brought 
together  in  this  volume  it  is  perhaps  not  too  much  to  say  that 
a  real  continuity  of  development  is  traceable  through  the 
period  with  which  we  have  had  to  do,  and  that  many  little 
communities  throughout  the  country,  under  the  influences 
always  at  work,  had  germinated  the  idea  of  immediate  aboli- 
tion, in  support  of  which  texts  were  easily  found  in  the 
Bible ;  and  that  thus  the  way  had  been  prepared  for  the  anti- 
slavery  ideas  and  activities  of  1830  and  the  subsequent  years. 
Mr.  Garrison  himself  "confessed  his  indebtedness  for  his 
views  "  of  slavery  to  Bourne's  The  Booh  and  Slavery  Irrecon- 
cilable, next  after  the  Bible  itself,^  and  in  Number  17  of  the 
first  volume  of  the  Liberator  appears  an  extract  quoted  from 
Bourne's  work.*  It  is  certain  that  Garrison  was  familiar 
with  the  work  as  early  as  September  13,  1830,^  and  he  may 
have  been  so  earlier.     He  arrived  at  the  doctrine  during  the 

1  Letters  on  American  Slavery,  pp.  104,  107. 

2  Chapter  TV,  p.  109. 

»  The  Life  of  Garrison,  by  his  children.  Vol.  I,  p.  306. 

«  Ibid.,  postscript  to  Preface.  '  lUd.,  p.  207. 


summer  of  1829,  before  his  association  with  Lundy  at  Balti- 
more.^ It  cannot  be  determined  when  Garrison  first  became 
acquainted  with  the  Letters  on  Slavery  of  the  Rev.  John  Ran- 
kin, but  they  seem  to  have  had  a  wide  circulation,  for  about 
the  year  1825  they  had  fallen  into  the  hands  of  the  Rev. 
Samuel  J.  May,  living  at  the  time  in  Brooklyn,  Connecticut, 
and  he  had  read  them  with  interest.^  In  the  second  volume 
of  the  Liberator  Garrison  republished  these  letters,  and  in 
after  years,  on  more  than  one  occasion,  he  acknowledged 
himself  the  "  disciple  "  of  their  author  .^ 

The  outspoken  courage  characteristic  of  the  new  phase  into 
which  the  anti-slavery  cause  passed  in  1830  helped  to  increase 
the  resistance  made  in  the  North  to  the  law  for  the  rendition 
of  fugitive  slaves.  The  sympathy  with  the  slave  now  became 
vocal  in  various  centres,  and  made  itself  heard  among  the 
blacks  of  the  South  through  the  passionate  and  unguarded 
utterances  of  their  masters.  The  evidence  gathered  from 
surviving  abolitionists  in  the  states  adjacent  to  the  lakes 
shows  an  increased  activity  of  the  Underground  Road  during 
the  decade  1830-1840.  The  removal  of  the  Indians  from  the 
Gulf  states  and  the  consequent  opening  of  vast  cotton-fields 
during  the  period  named  led  many  slaves  to  flee  from  the 
danger  of  transportation  to  the  far  South.*  Under  these 
circumstances  pursuits  of  runaways  became  more  frequent, 
and  were  often  marked  by  a  display  of  anger  on  the  part  of 
the  pursuing  party  easily  accounted  for  by  the  anti-slavery 
agitation  in  the  free  states.  Open  interference  and  rescues 
in  which  both  negroes  and  whites  took  part  became  more 
common.^  Many  persons  of  respectability,  more  courageous 
than  the  great  majority  of  their  class  at  that  time,  not  only 
enrolled  themselves  in  the  new  anti-slavery  societies,  but 
made  it  a  part  of  their  duty  to  engage  in  the  defence  of  fugi- 
tive slaves.     Salmon  P.  Chase  often  served  as  counsel  for 

1  The  Life  of  Garrison,  Vol.  I,  p.  140. 

2  Memoir  of  8.  J.  May,  by  George  B.  Emerson  and  others,  pp.  76,  78,  87, 
139,  140.     See  also  Life  of  Garrison,  "Vol.  I,  p.  213,  foot-note. 

«  Life  of  Garrison,  Vol.  I,  pp.  305,  306  ;  Vol.  Ill,  pp.  379,  380. 

*  G.  M.  Weston,  Progress  of  Slavery  in  the  United  States,  p.  22. 

*  McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  pp.  38,  39. 


the  captured  runaway  during  this  period,  and  soon  gained 
for  himself  the  unenvied  title  of  "  attorney-general  for  fugi- 
tive slaves."  ^  Other  men  of  talents,  position  and  education 
were  not  behind  the  rising  Ohioan  in  their  protection  of  the 
refugee.  A  formal  organization  of  Undei'ground  Railroad 
woi'kers,  with  Robert  Purvis  as  president,  was  effected  at 
Philadelphia  in  1838.  It  is  evident  that  the  Underground 
Railroad  was  now  developing  with  rapidity.  The  conditions 
prevailing  in  the  North  and  South  during  the  decade  1840- 
1850  were  not  less  favorable  to  the  escape  of  slaves,  and,  in 
one  particular,  were  more  favorable ;  the  decision  in  the 
Prigg  case  in  1842  took  away  much  of  the  effectiveness  of 
the  Fugitive  Slave  Act  of  1793,  and  thus  made  pursuit  little 
less  than  useless. 

About  four  years  before  this  historic  decision  was  declared, 
that  is  to  say,  in  December,  1838,  John  Calhoun,  of  Kentucky, 
sought  to  introduce  a  resolution  in  the  House  looking  towards 
an  enactment  making  it  unlawful  for  any  person  to  aid  fugi- 
tive slaves  in  escaping  from  their  owners,  and  another  making 
it  unlawful  for  any  person  in  the  non-slaveholding  states  to 
entice  slaves  from  their  owners,  the  prosecution  of  offenders 
against  these  proposed  laws  to  take  place  in  the  courts  of  the 
United  States.  Objections  were  made  to  the  introduction 
of  these  resolutions,  and  Mr.  Calhoun  was  prevented  from 
getting  a  reference  of  the  matter  to  the  Committee  on  the 
Judiciary  by  a  vote  of  107  to  89.^  When  the  Prigg  decision 
came,  its  political  significance  was  quickly  shown  in  the  pas- 
sage of  laws  by  various  Northern  states  forbidding  their  officers 
from  performing  the  duties  imposed  by  the  act  of  1793.  From 
1842  to  1850,  Massachusetts,  Vermont,  Pennsylvania  and 
Rhode  Island  passed  such  laws,  and  Connecticut,  while  re- 
pealing an  earlier  law  on  her  statute  books  as  being  at  the 
time  unconstitutional,  retained  the  portion  of  it  that  restrained 
state  officers  from  assisting  in  the  execution  of  the  act. 

In  the  meantime  the  Southern  leaders  did  not  fail  to  note 
the  progress  of  anti-slavery  sentiment  north  of  Mason  and 

^  J.  W.  Schuckers,  The  Life  and  Public  Service  of  Samuel  Portland  Chase, 
p.  52.    For  portrait  see  plate  facing  p.  254. 

2  Congressional  Globe,  Twenty-fifth  Congress,  Third  Session,  p.  34. 


Dixon's  line.  This  was  not  less  manifest  in  the  formation 
of  the  Liberty  party  in  the  early  years  of  the  decade  1840- 
1850,  than  in  the  legislative  and  other  opposition  to  the 
Fugitive  Slave  Law.  Indeed,  so  marked  an  impression  had 
been  made  upon  the  minds  and  sympathies  of  anti-slavery 
men  by  the  b?'ave  and  successful  flight  of  slaves,  that  a  Lib- 
erty convention  at  Peterboro,  New  York,  in  January,  1842, 
issued  an  address  to  slaves,  declaring  that  slavery  was  to  be 
"  tortured  even  unto  death,"  advising  them  to  seek  liberty 
by  flight,  and  assuring  them  that  the  abolitionist  knew  no 
more  grateful  employment  than  that  of  helping  escaping 
slaves  to  Canada.  In  August  of  the  following  year  the 
national  convention  of  the  new  party,  comprising  nearly  a 
thousand  delegates  from  all  the  free  states  except  New  Hamp- 
shire, made  the  disavowal  of  the  fugitive  recovery  clause 
of  the  Constitution  a  part  of  the  party  platform,  voting  by  a 
decisive  majority  "  to  regard  and  treat  the  third  clause  of  the 
Constitution,  whenever  applied  to  the  case  of  a  fugitive  slave, 
as  utterly  null  and  void ;  and  consequently  as  forming  no  part 
of  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States  whenever  we  are 
called  upon  or  sworn  to  support  it."  ^  About  the  time  of  the 
announcement  of  this  principle,  Mr.  Garrison  issued  in  behalf 
of  the  American  Anti-Slavery  Society  an  address  to  the 
bondmen  of  the  South,  in  which  they  were  promised  deliver- 
ance from  their  chains,  and  were  encouraged  to  run  away 
from  their  masters.  "  If  you  come  to  us,  and  are  hungry," 
ran  the  address,  "  we  will  feed  you ;  if  thirsty,  we  will  give 
you  drink ;  if  naked,  we  will  clothe  you ;  if  sick,  we  will 
minister  to  your  necessities  ;  if  in  prison,  we  will  visit  you ; 
if  you  need  a  hiding-place  from  the  face  of  the  pursuer,  we 
will  provide  one  that  even  bloodhounds  will  not  scent  out."^ 
Such  open  attacks  upon  the  property  rights  of  planters  and 
slave-traders  must  have  been  extremely  aggravating  to  South- 
erners, and,  of  course,  contributed  to  bring  the  question  of  a 
more  effective  Fugitive  Slave  Law  again  under  the  consider- 
ation of  Congress,  notwithstanding  the  fact  that  a  large  share 
of  that  body's  attention  was  occupied  during  the  period  from 

1  Wilson,  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  I,  pp.  552,  563. 
''Ibid.,  p.  563. 

SLAVE  LAW  OF  1850  IN  CONGRESS  311 

1844  to  1848  with  matters  connected  with  the  annexation  of 
Texas,  the  Mexican  War  and  the  settlement  of  the  Oregon 
boundary  dispute.  In  1847  the  legislature  of  Kentucky  pre- 
sented a  petition  to  Congress  urging  the  importance  of  new 
laws  so  framed  as  to  enable  the  citizens  of  slaveholding  states 
to  reclaim  their  negroes  when  they  had  absconded  into  the 
free  states.  This  resulted  in  a  bill  reported  in  the  Senate, 
but  the  bill  never  got  beyond  its  second  reading.  Two  years 
later  an  attempt  was  made  in  the  House  to  secure  legislation 
for  the  same  object,  but  the  committee  to  whom  the  matter 
was  referred  seems  never  to  have  reported. 

At  intervals  more  or  less  frequent,  during  a  period  of  more 
than  fifty  years,  the  South  had  been  demanding  of  Congress 
adequate  protection  for  its  human  property  against  the  depre- 
dations of  those  Northerners  who  rejoiced  in  the  work  of 
secret  emancipation.  The  efforts  of  the  slaveholding  section 
for  a  stricter  fugitive  recovery  law  had  uniformly  failed  down 
to  1850,  and  it  seems  altogether  likely  that  the  success  won 
in  the  year  named  would  not  have  been  realized,^  if  a  bill 
intended  to  meet  the  needs  of  slave-owners  had  not  been 
made  an  essential  part  of  the  great  scheme  of  compromise 
for  the  adjustment  of  the  differences  threatening  the  perpetu- 
ity of  the  Union  at  the  time.^  The  measure  that  was  finally 
adopted,  as  a  part  of  the  programme  of  compromise,  was  one 
introduced  into  the  Senate  by  Mr.  Mason,  of  Virginia,  in  the 
early  part  of  the  fii-st  session  of  the  Thirty-first  Congress.    It 

'  "The  wonder  is  how  such  an  Act  came  to  pass,  even  hy  so  lean  a  vote 
as  it  received  ;  for  it  was  voted  for  by  less  than  half  of  the  Senate,  and  by 
six  less  than  the  number  of  senators  from  the  slave  states  alone.  It  is  a 
wonder  how  it  passed  at  all ;  and  the  wonder  increases  on  knowing  that,  of 
the  small  number  that  voted  for  it,  many  were  against  it,  and  merely  went 
along  with  those  who  had  constituted  themselves  the  particular  guardians  of 
the  rights  of  the  slave  states,  and  claimed  a  lead  in  all  that  concerned  them. 
These  self-instituted  guardians  were  permitted  to  have  their  own  way,  some 
voting  with  them  unwillingly,  others  not  voting  at  all.  It  was  a  part  of  the 
plan  of  '  compromise  and  pacification '  which  was  then  deemed  essential  to 
save  the  Union  ;  under  the  fear  of  danger  to  the  Union  on  one  hand,  and  the 
charms  of  pacification  and  compromise  on  the  other,  a  few  heated  spirits  got 
the  control  and  had  things  their  own  way."  Benton's  Thirty  Years^  View, 
Vol.  n,  p.  780. 

2  See  Rhodes'  History  of  the  United  States,  Vol.  I,  pp.  130-136,  for  a  dis- 
cussion of  the  question  whether  the  Union  was  in  danger  in  1860. 


was  aimed,  said  its  author,  at  evils  "  more  deeply  seated  and 
widely  extended  than  those  "  his  colleague  recognized.  "  The 
state  from  whence  I  came,"  continued  Mr.  Mason,  "  and  the 
states  of  Kentucky  and  Maryland,  being  those  states  of 
the  Union  that  border  on  the  free  states,  have  had  ample 
experience,  not  only  of  the  difficulties,  but  of  the  actual  im- 
possibility of  reclaiming  a  fugitive  when  he  once  gets  within 
the  boundaries  of  a  non-slaveholding  state."  ^  Henry  Clay, 
the  author  of  the  Compromise,  whose  disposition  had  been  to 
lean  to  the  Northern  rather  than  to  the  Southern  side  of  the 
general  controversy,  expressed  the  irritation  of  his  own  state, 
Kentucky,  when  he  said  concerning  the  question  of  fugitive 
slaves :  "  Upon  this  subject  I  do  think  that  we  have  just  and 
serious  cause  of  complaint  against  the  free  States.  I  think 
they  have  failed  in  fulfilling  a  great  obligation,  and  the  failure 
is  precisely  upon  one  of  those  subjects  which  in  its  nature  is 
most  irritating  and  inflammatory  to  those  who  live  in  slave 
States.  ...  It  is  our  duty  to  make  the  law  more  effective ; 
and  I  shall  go  with  the  senator  from  the  South  who  goes 
furthest  in  making  penal  laws  and  imposing  the  heaviest 
sanctions  for  the  recovery  of  fugitive  slaves  and  the  restora- 
tion of  them  to  their  owners."  ^  Delaware  and  Missouri  had 
grievances  similar  to  those  of  Kentucky  and  other  border 
states.  The  region  constituted  by  these  states  suffered  heavy 
losses  through  the  operations  of  the  Underground  Railroad.^ 
That  the  cotton  states  also  lost  considerable  property  every 
year  by  the  escape  of  slaves  to  the  North  appears  from  a 
statement  of  Senator  Jefferson  Davis,  of  Mississippi:  "Ne- 
groes do  escape  from  Mississippi  frequently,"  he  said,  "  and 
the  boats  constantly  passing  by  our  long  line  of  river  frontier 
furnish  great  facility  to  get  into  Ohio ;  and  when  they  do 
escape  it  is  with  great  difficulty  that  they  are  recovered; 
indeed,  it  seldom  occurs  that  they  are  restored.     We,  though 

1  Congressional  Globe,  Thirty-first  Congress,  First  Session,  Appendix, 
p.  1583. 

^  Life  and  Speeches  of  Henry  Clay,  Vol.  II,  pp.  641,  643.  The  speech 
from  which  the  above  quotations  are  made  was  delivered  Feb.  5  and  6,  1850. 

'  Congressional  Qlobe,  Thirty-first  Congress,  Second  Session,  Appendix, 
p.  1051 ;  MoDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  31. 

SLAVE  LAW  OF  1850  IN  CONGRESS  313 

less  than  the  border  states,  are  seriously  concerned  in  this 
question.  .  .  .  Those  who,  like  myself,  live  on  that  great 
highway  of  the  West  —  the  Mississippi  River — and  are  most 
exposed,  have  a  present  and  increasing  interest  in  the  matter. 
We  desire  laws  that  shall  be  effective,  and  at  the  same  time 
within  the  constitutional  power  of  Congress ;  such  as  shall 
be  adequate,  and  be  secured  by  penalties  the  most  stringent 
which  can  be  imposed."  ^  Calhoun  admitted  that  discontent 
was  universal  in  the  South,  and  declared  that  conciliation 
could  only  come  when  the  North  consented  to  meet  certain  con- 
ditions, one  of  which  was  the  restoration  of  fugitive  slaves. 

Many  of  the  speeches  contained  suggestions  and  prophecies 
of  disunion.  One  of  these,  made  by  Pratt,  of  Maryland, 
called  the  attention  of  the  Senate  to  a  recent  address  deliv- 
ered by  Mr.  Seward,  of  New  York,  before  an  assembly  of 
Ohioans,  in  which  he  urged  them  to  "  extend  a  cordial  wel- 
come to  the  fugitive  who  lays  his  weary  limbs  at  your  door, 
and  defend  him  as  you  wovXd  your  household  gods."  ^  Another 
made  by  Yulee,  of  Florida,  informed  the  Senate  of  a  conven- 
tion then  sitting  at  Cazenovia,  New  York,  attended  by  more 
than  thirty  runaway  slaves,  and  held  for  the  purpose  of 
devising  ways  and  means  of  escape  for  blacks.  The  language 
of  the  address  to  slaves  issued  by  the  convention  was  not 
calculated  to  reassure  slave-owners.  In  part  it  ran :  "  Includ- 
ing our  children,  we  number  here  in  Canada  20,000  souls. 
The  population  in  the  free  States  are,  with  few  exceptions, 
the  fugitive  slave's  friends. 

"  We  are  poor.  We  can  do  little  more  for  your  deliverance 
than  pray  to  God  for  it.  We  will  furnish  you  with  pocket 
compasses,  and  in  the  dark  nights  you  can  run  away.  We 
cannot  furnish  you  with  weapons ;  some  of  us  are  not  inclined 
to  carry  arms ;  but  if  you  can  get  them,  take  them,  and,  be- 
fore you  go  back  into  bondage,  use  them,  if  you  are  obliged 
to  take  life.  The  slaveholders  would  not  hesitate  to  kill 
you,  rather  than  not  take  you  back  into  bondage. 

"Numerous  as  the  escapes  from  slavery  are,  they  would 
still  be  more  so,  were  it  not  for  the  master's  protection  of  the 

1  Congressional  Crlobe,  Thirty-first  Congress,  First  Session,  Appendix, 
p.  1615.  ^  Ibid.,  p.  1592. 


rights  of  property.  You  even  hesitate  to  take  the  slowest  of 
his  horses;  but  we  say  take  the  fastest.  Pack  up  provi- 
sions and  clothes ;  and  either  get  a  key,  or  force  the  lock,  and 
get  his  money  and  start."  ^  In  view  of  such  proceedings, 
openly  conducted  without  hindrance,  the  Senator  appealed  to 
his  auditors  and  to  the  country  to  consider  whether  "this 
Union  can  long  continue  ?  "  ^ 

In  his  famous  7th-of-March  speech,  Webster  freely  admitted 
that  the  complaints  of  the  South  in  regard  to  the  non-rendition 
of  fugitive  slaves  were  just,  and  that  the  North  had  fallen  short 
of  her  duty.  He  therefore  decided  to  support  Mason's  Fugi- 
tive Slave  Bill,  although  he  wanted  it  amended  in  certain  par- 
ticulars, and  sought  especially  to  have  in  it  a  clause  securing 
trial  by  jury  to  the  refugee  in  case  he  denied  owing  service 
to  the  claimant.  He  criticised  the  abolition  societies  of  the 
North,  and  said  he  thought  their  operations  for  the  last 
twenty  years  had  produced  "nothing  good  or  valuable." 
The  press  of  the  South  he  found  to  be  as  violent  as  that  of 
the  other  section.  There  was,  he  decided,  "  no  solid  griev- 
ance presented  by  the  South  within  the  redress  of  the  gov- 
ernment, .  .  .  but  the  want  of  a  proper  regard  to  the 
injunction  of  the  Constitution  for  the  delivery  of  fugitive 
slaves."  ^ 

Under  the  combined  championship  of  Webster,  Clay  and 
Calhoun,  and  to  bring  about  better  feeling  between  the  two 
parts  of  the  country,  which  in  the  eyes  of  many  contempora- 
ries seemed  on  the  verge  of  splitting  asunder,  the  new  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  was  passed  by  the  Senate,  August  26,  1850,  and 
by  the  House  a  few  days  later.  By  the  signature  of  Presi- 
dent Fillmore  the  measure  became  a  law,  September  18. 

The  vote  by  which  the  new  law  had  been  passed  through 
the  two  Houses  of  Congress  did  not  betoken  a  disposition  at 
the  North  to  meet  the  obligations  it  imposed  upon  that  sec- 
tion. Only  three  of  the  senators  representing  free  states 
voted  for  the  measure.  These  were  Dodge  and  Jones,  of 
Indiana,  and  Sturgeon,  of   Pennsylvania.     Among  the  one 

1  Congressional  Olobe,  Thirty-first  Congress,  First  Session,  Appendix, 
pp.  1622,  1623. 

2  Ibid.  8  Webster'."  Works,  Vol.  V,  pp.  354,  355,  357,  358,  361. 

SLAVE  LA.W  OF  1850  IN  CONGRESS  315 

hundred  and  thirty-six  members  from  the  Northern  states  in 
the  House,  only  thirty-one  voted  with  the  slaveholders. 
Three  of  the  thirty-one  were  Whigs,  the  rest  Democrats.^ 
Jefferson  Davis  showed  that  he  comprehended  the  true  situa- 
tion when  he  said,  during  the  following  session  of  Congress, 
that  the  history  of  the  law  proved  that  it  would  not  furnish 
the  needed  security,  because  the  Northern  majority  did  not 
pass  the  bill,  but  merely  allowed  the  Southern  minority  to 
pass  it,  and  because  the  measure  had  to  be  executed  in  the 
North.^  This  view  of  the  case  seems  not  to  have  been  taken 
by  those  representing  the  border  slave  states.  The  compre- 
hensive character  of  Clay's  scheme  was  favorable  to  the 
incorporation  in  it  of  a  measure  stringent  enough  to  suit  the 
most  aggrieved  without  exciting  the  opposition  such  a  meas- 
ure would  have  called  out  if  presented  by  itself. 

Whatever  the  expectations  of  the  various  slaveholding 
states  with  regard  to  the  recovery  of  their  runaways  under 
the  new  law,  Joshua  R.  Giddings,  himself  an  enthusiastic 
agent  of  the  Underground  Railroad  and  a  better  judge  of 
the  real  convictions  of  the  North  than  Webster,  took  the 
earliest  occasion  to  give  utterance  to  the  sentiments  of  the 
people  upon  whom  depended  the  success  or  failure  of  the  law 
of  1850.  Giddings  did  not  delay,  nor  did  he  mince  matters. 
In  the  earliest  days  of  the  session  following  that  in  which 
the  compromise  had  been  passed  he  denounced  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  and  predicted  its  failure.  Concerning  the  citizens 
of  his  own  state,  he  said :  "  The  freemen  of  Ohio  will  never 
turn  out  to  chase  the  panting  fugitive.  They  will  never  be 
metamorphosed  into  bloodhounds,  to  track  him  to  his  hiding- 
place,  and  seize  and  drag  him  out,  and  deliver  him  to  his 
tormentors.  Rely  upon  it  they  will  die  first.  .  .  .  Let  no 
man  teU  me  there  is  no  higher  law  than  this  fugitive  bill. 
We  feel  there  is  a  law  of  right,  of  justice,  of  freedom,  im- 
planted in  the  breast  of  every  intelligent  human  being,  that 

1  Von  Hoist,  Constitutional  and  Political  History  of  the  United  States, 
Vol.  rv,  pp.  18,  19.  The  hundred  and  thirty-six  Northern  members  com- 
prised seventy-six  Whigs  and  fifty  Democrats. 

2  Congressional  Globe,  Thirty-flrst  Congress,  Second  Session,  Appendix, 
p.  324.     See  also  Von  Hoist's  work,  Vol.  IV,  p.  27. 


bids  him  look  with  scorn  upon  this  libel  on  all  that  is  called 
law."  1 

That  slave-owners  counted  on  deriving  benefits  from  the 
law  appears  from  the  great  number  of  attempts  at  once  made 
to  reclaim  runaways,  and  the  frequent  prosecutions  of  those 
guilty  of  facilitating  their  escape.  The  period  sometimes 
designated  the  "  era  of  slave-hunting  "  began  in  the  North. 
Slave-owners  and  their  agents  entered  vigorously  upon  the 
chase,  and  a  larger  number  of  communities  in  the  free  states 
than  ever  before  were  invaded  by  men  engaged  in  the  dis- 
gusting business  of  capturing  blacks,  intelligent  and  ambi- 
tious enough  to  seek  their  own  liberty.  Villages,  towns  and 
cities  from  Iowa  to  Maine,  but  especially  in  the  middle  states, 
witnessed  scenes  calculated  to  awaken  the  popular  detestation 
of  slavery  as  it  had  never  been  awakened  before.  Pitiable 
distress  fell  upon  the  fugitive  settlers  in  the  North  and  did 
much  to  quicken  consciences  everywhere.  The  capture  of  a 
fugitive  in  the  place  where  he  had  been  living  invariably 
caused  an  outburst  of  indignation;  and  if  the  victim  were 
not  rescued  before  his  removal  by  his  captors  a  sum  of  money 
was  raised  if  possible,  and  his  freedom  was  purchased  if  that 
could  be  done.  All  of  these  circumstances  contributed  to 
increase  the  traffic  along  the  numerous  and  tortuous  lines  of 
the  Underground  Railroad,  which,  according  to  the  testimony 
of  surviving  abolitionists,  did  its  most  thriving  business  in  all 
parts  of  the  North  during  the  decade  from  1850  to  1860. 
The  marked  increase  in  the  number  of  negroes  seeking  aid 
on  their  way  to  Canada  at  the  outset  of  this  period  was  due 
to  the  flight  of  many  of  the  fugitive  settlers  from  their  accus- 
tomed haunts  in  the  free  states ;  but  the  supply  later  on  must 
be  attributed  to  the  ease  of  communication  through  various 
channels  by  which  slaves  were  every  day  learning  of  the 
body  of  abolitionists  eager  to  help  them  to  freedom.  The 
readiness  of  the  Northern  people  to  act  in  opposition  to 
the  law  arose  from  their  abhorrence  of  a  measure  that  they 
considered  unrighteous  and  cruel,  and  from  their  resentment 

1  Congressional  Globe,  Thirty-flrst  Congress,  Second  Session,  pp.  15,  16. 
Von  Hoist,  Constitutional  and  Political  History  of  the  United  States,  Vol. 
IV,  p.  15. 


at  the  requirement  that  they  must  join  in  the  hunt,  so  that 
the  fugitive  might  be  promptly  enslaved. ^  The  wide-spread 
opposition  to  the  law  led  to  prosecutions  of  underground 
workers  in  various  places,  and  these  prosecutions  greatly 
helped  to  keep  the  slavery  question  before  the  attention  of 
the  country,  despite  the  wishes  and  endeavors  of  the  politi- 
cians who  strove  to  silence  the  issue.^ 

The  record  of  the  year  1851  illustrates  the  character  of  the 
general  contest,  which  had  already  set  in  before  the  enact- 
ment of  the  new  law,  but  which  assumed  thenceforth  an 
importance  it  had  never  had  before.  Early  in  the  year  Sha- 
drach  was  seized  in  Boston,  carried  before  the  commissioner, 
and  remanded  to  custody,  but  was  rescued  by  a  crowd  of 
negroes  and  hurried  off  to  Canada.  Later  Sims  was  caught 
and  confined  in  the  court-house  until  he  was  marched  to 
Long  Wharf  under  guard  of  three  hundred  policemen.  Wil- 
Uam  and  Ellen  Craft,  fugitives  from  Georgia,  were  tracked 
to  Boston,  but,  aided  by  Theodore  Parker  and  other  faithful 
friends,  succeeded  in  escaping  to  England.  Other  notable 
instances  of  pursuit  occurred  at  Chicago,  Illinois,  Pough- 
keepsie.  New  York,  and  Westchester  and  Wilkesbarre,  Penn- 
sylvania. At  Philadelphia  a  free  negro  was  arrested,  proved 
a  slave  by  perjured  testimony  and  taken  to  Maryland;  fortu- 
nately he  gained  his  liberty  again  by  the  refusal  of  the 
planter  to  whom  he  was  delivered  to  identify  him  as  his 
lost  property.  At  Buffalo  an  alleged  fugitive  was  released 
on  writ  of  habeas  corpus  by  Judge  Conkling.  At  the  hear- 
ing that  followed  the  lack  of  evidence  caused  the  judge  to 
discharge  the  prisoner,  and  he  was  soon  in  Canada.  In  the 
attempt  of  the  Maryland  slave-owner,  Gorsuch,  and  his  party, 
to  recover  certain  runaway  slaves  from  Christiana,  Pennsyl- 
vania, Gorsuch  was  killed  and  his  son  seriously  wounded, 
while  the  fugitives  managed  to  escape.  This  affair  caused 
intense  excitement,  not  only  in  Pennsylvania,  but  through- 

1  MoDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  p.  63. 

3  "These  prosecutions  attracted  more  attention  to  the  slavery  question 
in  a  few  months  than  the  abolitionists  had  been  able  to  arouse  in  twenty 
years."  Professor  Edward  Channing,  The  United  States  of  America,  1765- 
1865,  p.  241. 


out  the  country.  Another  case  resulting  in  the  death  of  one 
of  the  parties  concerned  grew  out  of  the  kidnapping  of  a  free 
negro  girl  from  the  house  of  a  Mr.  Miller,  in  Nottingham, 
Pennsylvania ;  Miller  succeeded  in  rescuing  the  girl,  but  he 
was  mysteriously  murdered  before  he  reached  home.  Near 
the  close  of  the  year  1851  Jerry  McHenry  was  arrested  in 
Syracuse,  New  York,  while  an  agricultural  fair  and  a  conven- 
tion of  the  Liberty  party  were  in  progress  in  that  city.  The 
attempted  escape  and  the  recapture  of  the  negro  wrought  up 
tlie  crowd  to  a  state  of  intense  feeling,  which  was  not  re- 
lieved until  the  fugitive  was  rescued  and  sent  to  Canada.^ 
There  were  many  other  instances  in  which  communities  were 
given  the  opportunity  to  show  their  spirit  in  the  defence  of 
helpless  bondmen. 

The  political  leaders  and  the  administration,  who  were 
responsible  for  the  enactment  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law, 
were  not  willing  to  see  its  provisions  thus  trampled  under 
foot.  Upon  the  reassembling  of  Congress  in  December,  1850, 
President  Fillmore  expressed  himself  in  his  message  as  pleased 
with  the  compromise  measures,  although,  he  admitted,  they 
had  not  yet  realized  their  purpose  fully.  "It  would  be 
strange,"  he  said,  "  if  they  had  been  received  with  immediate 
approbation  by  people  and  states  prejudiced  and  heated  by 
the  exciting  controversies  of  their  representatives."  He  never- 
theless had  faith  that  the  various  enactments  would  be  gen- 
erally sustained.  The  tinge  of  doubt  in  the  communication 
of  the  President  pretty  certainly  referred  to  the  fierce  denun- 
ciations of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  recently  uttered  by  mass- 
meetings  in  various  parts  of  the  Northern  states,  and  to 
several  cases  of  resistance  where  the  execution  of  the  law  had 
been  attempted.  His  reassuring  expressions  voiced  his  own 
hope  and  that  of  the  political  magnates ;  and  he  meant  also, 
perhaps,  to  carry  assurance  to  the  South.  Some  balm  seemed 
necessary,  for  the  Georgia  convention  in  accepting  the  com- 
promise as  a  "  permanent  adjustment  of  the  sectional  contro- 
versy," voted,  "That  it  is  the  deliberate  opinion  of  this 
convention  that  upon  the  faithful  execution  of  the  Fugitive 

-  F.  W.  Seward,  Seioard  at  Washington  as  Senator  and  Secretary  of  State, 
1891,  Vol.  I,  pp.  169,  170.    McDougaU,  Fugitive  Slaves,  pp.  44,  47-51,  68,  59. 


Slave  Bill  by  tlie  proper  authorities  depends  tlie  preservation 
of  our  mucli-loved  Union."  ^ 

The  open  resistance  to  the  law  upon  several  occasions  in 
1851  brought  opportunities  to  the  administration  to  exert 
itself  in  favor  of  the  faithful  execution  of  the  law.  After 
the  rescue  of  Shadrach  from  the  United  States  marshal  on 
February  15,  much  excitement  existed,  especially  at  the 
centre  of  government.  The  President  immediately  issued  a 
proclamation  commanding  all  civil  and  military  officers,  and 
calling  on  all  good  citizens,  to  "aid  in  quelling  this  and 
similar  combinations  "  and  to  assist  in  capturing  the  persons 
that  had  set  the  law  at  defiance.  The  Senate,  after  debate, 
adopted  a  resolution  requesting  the  President  to  lay  before  it 
information  relating  to  the  rescue,  and  inquiring  whether 
further  legislation  was  desirable.  This  request  was  promptly 
complied  with  by  the  executive.  Then  Clay,  the  author  of 
the  resolution,  urged  that  the  President  be  invested  with 
extraordinary  power  to  enforce  the  law,  but  failed  to  gain 
substantial  support  for  his  proposition .  In  the  meantime  five 
of  the  rescuers  of  Shadrach  were  indicted  and  tried,  but 
owing  to  the  disagreement  of  the  jury  none  of  them  were 
convicted.  The  energetic  action  of  the  administration  and 
its  supporters  had  apparently  accomplished  no  result,  except 
to  demonstrate  the  difficulties  with  which  the  enforcement 
of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Act  was  encompassed. 

The  same  lesson  was  taught  in  two  important  instances' 
toward  the  end  of  this  year,  when  the  government  under- 
took to  carry  the  law  into  effect.  The  Gorsuch  tragedy  at 
Christiana,  Pennsylvania,  led  the  President  to  order  the 
United  States  marshal,  district  attorney  and  commissioner 
from  Philadelphia,  with  forty-five  United  States  marines  from 
the  navy-yard,  to  assist  in  arresting  those  supposed  to  have 
been  engaged  in  the  fight.  The  fugitives  had  escaped  and 
could  not  be  recovered,  but  a  number  of  other  persons,  most 
of  whom  were  colored,  were  arrested,  taken  to  Philadelphia, 
and  indicted  for  treason.  But  the  efforts  of  the  authorities 
to  convict  were  unavailing,  and  the  prisoners  went  scot  free.^ 

1  Boston  Atlas,  Dec.  17,  1850. 

2  For  references  see  Appendix  B,  53,  Christiana  case,  p.  373. 


Within  a  few  days  after  the  passage  of  the  Fugitive  Slave 
Law  in  September  of  the  previous  year,  the  spirit  of  resistance 
in  Syracuse,  New  York,  had  manifested  itself  in  public  meet- 
ings at  which  the  law  was  denounced  and  a  Vigilance  Com- 
mittee organized.^  In  the  early  part  of  June  following, 
Daniel  Webster,  who  was  travelling  extensively  through  the 
Northern  states  and  exerting  his  personal  and  oflficial  influence 
to  secure  obedience  to  the  law,  visited  Syracuse  and  made  a 
speech.  In  the  course  of  his  remarks  he  insisted  in  no  con- 
ciliatory terms  that  the  law  must  be  enforced.  He  said, 
"  Those  persons  in  this  city  who  mean  to  oppose  the  execution 
of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  are  traitors !  traitors ! !  traitors ! ! ! 
This  law  ought  to  be  obeyed,  and  it  will  be  enforced  —  yes, 
it  shall  be  enforced,  and  that,  too,  in  the  midst  of  the  next 
anti-slavery  convention,  if  then  there  shall  be  any  occasion  to 
enforce  it." 

As  if  in  fulfillment  of  this  prediction  of  the  Secretary  of 
State,  on  October  1, 1851,  a  day  when  a  convention  of  the 
Liberty  party  was  in  progress,  an  attempt  was  made  to  capt- 
ure one  Jerry  McHenry,  an  undoubted  fugitive;  but  the 
Vigilance  Committee,  under  efficient  leadership,  succeeded  in 
rescuing  him  out  of  the  hands  of  his  captors.  At  this  out- 
come there  was  much  exultation  among  the  anti-slavery 
people,  as  also  when  later  the  prosecution  instituted  against 
eighteen  of  the  rescuers  ended  in  a  failure  to  convict.  It  is 
Vorthy  of  note  that  Seward  was  the  first  to  sign  the  bond  of 
those  indicted;  and  that  Gerrit  Smith,  then  a  member  of 
Congress,  made  a  defiant  speech  in  the  fall  of  1852  in  Canan- 
daigua,  where  the  trial  of  one  of  the  rescuers  was  going  on.^ 

Such  incidents,  together  with  the  aggravation  caused  by 
the  removal  of  fugitives  successfully  seized,  made  it  plain 
that  the  compromise  was  not  the  "  finality  "  that  the  poli- 
ticians declared  it  to  be;  and  that  the  Whig  and  Demo- 
cratic parties  chose  to  decree  it  in  their  national  platforms  in 
the  summer  of  1852.     The  principles  of  political  opposition 

1  S.  J.  May,  Some  Recollections  of  our  Anti-Slavery  Conflict,  p.  349. 

"  Ibid.,  pp.  373-384  ;  Frothingham,  Life  of  Gerrit  Smith,  p.  117 ; 
McDougall,  Fugitive  Slaves,  pp.  48,  49 ;  Wilson,  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave 
Power,  Vol.  II,  pp.  327,  328. 



determined  by  the  conditions  of  the  time  were  uttered  by  the 
convention  of  the  Free  Soil  party,  with  which  many  of  the 
underground  operators  were  now  allied,  in  the  words :  "  No 
more  slave  states,  no  more  slave  territories,  no  nationalized 
slavery,  and  no  national  legislation  for  the  extradition  of 
slaves."  The  issue  of  the  presidential  campaign  in  the  elec- 
tion of  Pierce,  a  compromise  Democrat,  marks  only  a  tempo- 
rary disturbance  in  the  progress  of  sentiment,  due  to  the 
desire  of  the  country  to  have  rest,  the  disinclination  of  many 
Whigs  to  support  their  own  candidate,  General  Winfield 
Scott,  and  the  policy  of  acquiescence  he  represented ;  and 
the  solidarity  of  action  among  the  Democrats,  who  were 
generally  satisfied  both  with  their  principles  and  their 

As  it  was  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  that  brought  the  North 
face  to  face  with  slavery  nationalized,  so  it  was  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  that  occasioned,  in  the  spring  of  1852,  the  produc- 
tion of  Uncle  TorrCs  Odbin,  a  novel  the  great  political  signifi- 
cance of  which  has  been  generally  acknowledged.  The 
observations  and  experience  that  made  possible  for  Mrs.  Har- 
riet Beecher  Stowe  the  writing  of  this  remarkable  book  were 
gained  by  her  while  living  at  Cincinnati,  where  she  was 
enabled  to  study  the  effects  of  slavery.  While  thus  a  resi- 
dent on  the  borders  of  Kentucky,  she  numbered  among  her 
friends  slaveholders  on  the  one  side  of  the  Ohio  River  and 
abolitionists  on  the  other.  At  the  time  of  her  first  trip 
across  the  Ohio  in  1833,  she  visited  an  estate,  which  is  de- 
scribed as  that  of  Colonel  Shelby  in  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin} 
Her  associations  and  sympathies  brought  home  to  her  the 
personal  aspects  of  slavery,  and  her  house  on  Walnut  Hills 
early  become  a  station  on  the  Underground  Railroad,  remain- 
ing so  doubtless  till  1850,  when  she  removed  with  her 
husband.  Professor  Calvin  Stowe,  to  Brunswick,  Maine. 

During  the  intervening  years  she  was  unconsciously  glean- 
ing incidents  and  scenes  and  discovering  characters  for  her 
future  book.  The  woful  experiences  of  her  midnight 
visitors,  whose  hunger  for  freedom  rose  superior  to  every 
other  need,  awoke  her  deepest  compassion,  and  the  neighbor- 

1  C.  E.  stowe,  Life  of  Harriet  Beecher  Stowe,  pp.  71,  72. 



hood  in  whicli  she  lived,  nay,  even  her  own  household,  sup- 
plied the  circumstances  and  adventures  depicted  in  the  lives 
of  some  of  her  most  admirable  characters.  Mrs.  Stowe  her- 
self declared  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin  to  be  "a  collection  and 
arrangement  of  real  incidents,  —  of  actions  really  performed, 
of  words  and  expressions  really  uttered,  —  grouped  together 
with  reference  to  a  general  result,  in  the  same  manner  that 
the  mosaic  artist  groups  his  fragments  of  various  stones  into 
one  general  picture."  ^  For  example  she  points  out  that  the 
service  of  Senator  Bird  in  the  incident  of  the  novel  in  which 
Eliza  escapes  from  her  pursuers  Tom  Locker  and  Marks  had 
its  counterpart  in  the  service  rendered  a  negro  girl  in  her 
own  employ  by  Professor  Stowe  and  his  brother-in-law, 
Henry  Ward  Beecher,  in  1839.  This  girl  was  secretly  con- 
veyed northward  by  her  escorts  a  distance  of  twelve  miles 
to  the  house  of  John  Van  Zandt,  another  station-keeper  of 
the  Underground  Road;  and  Van  Zandt  it  was  who  "per- 
formed the  good  deed  which  the  author  in  her  story  ascribes 
to  Van  Tromp."2  Concerning  the  leading  Quaker  charac- 
ter in  her  book  Mrs.  Stowe  says :  "  The  character  of  Rachel 
Halliday  was  a  real  one,  but  she  has  passed  away  to  her 
reward.  Simeon  Halliday,  calmly  risking  fine  and  imprison- 
ment for  his  love  to  God  and  man,  has  had  in  this  country 
many  counterparts  among  the  sect.  The  writer  had  in  mind, 
at  the  time  of  writing,  the  scenes  in  the  trial  of  Thomas 
Garet,  of  Wilmington,  Delaware,  for  the  crime  of  hiring  a 
hack  to  convey  a  mother  and  four  children  from  Newcastle 
jail  to  Wilmington,  a  distance  of  five  miles."  ^  The  thrilling 
adventures  of  Eliza  in  escaping  across  the  Ohio  River  with 
her  child  in  her  arms  as  the  ice  was  breaking  up  was  an 
actual  occurrence  that  took  place  fifty  miles  above  Cincin- 
nati, at  Ripley,  an  initial  station  of  an  important  underground 

1  A  Key  to  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin,  p.  5 ;  Charles  Dudley  Warner  in  The 
Atlantic  Monthly,  September,  1896,  p.  312. 

"  A  Key  to  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin,  p.  23  ;  C.  E.  Stowe,  Life  of  Sarriet 
Beecher  iStowe,  p.  93 ;  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin ;  Howe,  Historical  Collections 
of  Ohio,  Vol.  II,  pp.  102,  103 ;  J.  W.  Shuckers,  Life  of  Chase,  p.  53. 

°  A  Key  to  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin,  p.  54. 

*  Beminiscences  of  Levi  Coffin,  pp.  147-151 ;  Howe,  Historical  Collections 


By  tlie  combination  of  such  elements  under  the  crystalliz- 
ing influence  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850,  Mrs.  Stowe 
made  her  story.  Intent  on  having  the  people  of  the  North 
understand  what  the  "  system  "  was,  about  which  so  many 
seemed  apathetic,  she  set  to  work  in  response  to  appeals  to 
her  to  take  up  her  pen.  The  result,  wholly  unexpected,  was 
the  production  of  a  book  that  did  for  the  whole  population  of 
the  free  states  what  the  Underground  Railroad  had  been 
doing  for  a  part  only :  the  author  made  real  the  sin  of  slavery 
to  the  consciences  of  freemen,  by  an  object-lesson  in  the  pos- 
sible evils  of  slavery  and  the  desire  of  the  slave  to  be  free. 
In  Harriet  Beecher  Stowe  the  thousands  of  fugitive  slaves 
that  had  been  unwittingly  acting  as  missionaries  in  the  cause 
of  freedom  through  the  earlier  years  found  at  last  a  champion 
whose  words  carried  their  touching  story  to  the  multitudes. 
The  disheartening  circumstances  under  which  her  novel  had 
been  composed  and  the  exhausted  condition  in  which  the 
author  found  herself  at  its  conclusion  did  not  permit  her  to 
look  for  anything  but  the  failure  of  her  undertaking.  As 
she  finished  the  last  proof-sheets  "  it  seemed  to  her  that  there 
was  no  hope;  that  nobody  would  hear,  nobody  would  read, 
nobody  would  pity;  that  this  frightful  system,  which  had 
already  pursued  its  victims  into  the  free  States,  might  at  last 
even  threaten  them  in  Canada."^  But  the  success  of  the 
book  was  immediate.  Three  thousand  copies  were  sold  on 
the  first  day  of  publication,  and  more  than  three  hundred 
thousand  in  this  country  within  the  year.^ 

The  political  effect  of  the  novel  has  been  disparaged  by  a 
few  writers,  because  it  did  not  cause  anti-slavery  gains  in  the 
national  election  occurring  in  the  fall  of  1852.  Thus  George 
Ticknor  wrote  in  December  of  that  year,  "  It  deepens  the 
horror  of  servitude,  but  it  does  not  affect  a  single  vote."^ 

of  Ohio,  Vol.  n,  p.  104 ;  see  also  article  on  "Early  Cincinnati,"  by  Judge 
Joseph  Cox  in  the  Cincinnati  Times-Star,  Peb.  6,  1891 ;  a  report  of  "  The 
Story  of  Eliza,"  as  told  by  the  Rev.  S.  G.  W.  Rankin,  printed  in  the  Boston 
Transcript,  Nov.  30,  1895,  an  article  on  Harriet  Beecher  Stowe,  in  the 
Cincinnati  Unqnirer,  Nov.  3,  1895,  p.  17. 

^  Quoted  by  Charles  Dudley  Warner  in  The  Atlantic  Monthly,  Septem- 
ber, 1896,  p.  315. 

"  Ibid.  »  Life  of  George  Ticknor,  Vol.  I,  p.  286. 


This  was  certainly  true,  for  the  mass  of  Northerners  were 
resting  in  the  belief  that  a  substantial  political  settlement  had 
been  reached  in  the  great  compromise.  It  was  not  to  be 
expected  that  this  belief,  which  was  the  outcome  of  weeks  of 
strenuous  discussion,  was  to  be  easily  tossed  aside  under  the 
emotional  stimulus  of  a  novel.  The  immediate  effect  of 
Uncle  Torris  Cabin  as  a  political  agency  lay  in  the  renewal  on 
a  vast  scale  of  the  consideration  of  the  question  of  slavery, 
which  the  compromise  had  been  thought  by  so  many  to  have 
settled.  Its  remote  effect,  which  did  not  show  itself  until 
the  latter  part  of  the  decade  1850-1860  has  been  best  ex- 
plained by  the  historian,  James  Ford  Rhodes.  This  writer 
says,  "  The  mother's  opinion  was  a  potent  factor  in  politics 
between  1852  and  1860,  and  boys  in  their  teens  in  the  one 
year  were  voters  in  the  other.  It  is  often  remarked  that 
previous  to  the  war  the  Republican  party  attracted  the  great 
majority  of  school-boys,  and  that  the  first  voters  were  an 
important  factor  in  its  final  success;  .  .  .  the  youth  of 
America  whose  first  ideas  on  slavery  were  formed  by  reading 
Uncle  TorrCs  Cabin  were  ready  to  vote  with  the  party  whose 
existence  was  based  on  opposition  to  an  extension  of  the 
great  evil."  ^  They  were  also  ready  to  fight  for  the  cause  of 
union  and  of  freedom  in  1861. 

Soon  after  the  publication  of  Mrs.  Stowe's  book,  Sumner 
began  his  movement  in  the  Senate  to  secure  the  repeal  of 
the  Fugitive  Slave  Law.  In  May,  1852,  he  presented  a  memo- 
rial from  the  Society  of  Friends  in  New  England,  asking  for 
its  repeal; 2  in  July  he  offered  a  resolution  instructing  the 
Committee  on  Judiciary  to  report  a  bill  for  this  purpose;^ 
and  in  August  he  sought  to  secure  his  end  by  proposing  an 
amendment  to  the  civil  and  diplomatic  appropriations  bill.  * 
In  the  speech  made  at  the  time  he  presented  this  amendment, 
a  speech  said  to  rank  with  that  of  Webster  on  the  Compromise 
in  1850  in  the  popular  interest  it  aroused,  Sumner  pointed 
to  the  example  of  Washington,  who  let  one  of  his  slaves 
remain  unmolested  in  New  Hampshire  rather  than  "  excite  a 

1  History  of  the  United  States,  Vol.  I,  pp.  284,  285. 

"  Peirce,  Life  of  Sumner,  Vol.  Ill,  p.  283. 

» Ibid.,  p.  289.  1  Ibid.,  p.  292. 


mob  or  riot,  or  even  uneasy  sensations  in  the  minds  of  well- 
disposed  citizens."  The  execution  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law, 
he  asked  Congress  to  note,  involved  mobs,  cruelty  and  vio- 
lence everywhere  its  enforcement  was  tried.  The  wonderful 
reception  given  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin  was,  he  thought,  an  ex- 
pression of  the  true  public  sentiment.  "  A  woman,  inspired 
by  Christian  genius,  enters  the  lists,  like  another  Joan  of  Arc, 
and  with  marvellous  powers  sweeps  the  chords  of  the  popu- 
lar heart.  Now  melting  to  tears,  and  now  inspiring  to  rage, 
her  work  everywhere  touches  the  conscience,  and  makes  the 
slave-hunter  more  hateful."^  He  saw  the  import  of  the 
appeal  of  fugitive  slaves  to  Northern  communities  for  pro- 
tection and  liberty.  "  For  them  every  sentiment  of  humanity 
is  aroused.  Rude  and  ignorant  they  may  be,  but  in  their  very 
efforts  for  freedom  they  claim  kindred  with  all  that  is  noble 
in  the  past.  Romance  has  no  stories  of  more  thrilling  inter- 
est; classical  antiquity  has  preserved  no  examples  of  advent- 
ure and  trial  more  worthy  of  renown.  They  are  among  the 
heroes  of  our  age.  Among  them  are  those  whose  names  will 
be  treasured  in  the  annals  of  their  race.  By  eloquent  voice 
they  have  done  much  to  make  their  wrongs  known,  and  to 
secure  the  respect  of  the  world.  History  will  soon  lend  her 
avenging  pen.  Proscribed  by  you  during  life,  they  will  pro- 
scribe you  through  all  time.  Sir,  already  judgment  is  begin- 
ning ;  a  righteous  public  sentiment  palsies  your  enactment."  ^ 
Through  his  denunciation  of  the  law,  his  justification  of 
those  who  aided  the  fugitive,  and  his  recognition  of  the  power 
of  the  fugitive's  appeal,  Sumner  may  be  said  to  have  become  the 
representative  and  spokesman  in  the  Senate  of  fugitive  slaves 
and  their  Northern  friends.  How  closely  he  identified  him- 
self with  their  cause  is  indicated  by  his  determined  efforts 

1  Peirce,  Life  of  Sumner,  Vol.  in,  pp.  296,  297 ;  Congressional  Globe, 
Vol.  XXV,  p.  1112. 

2  Congressional  Globe,  Vol.  XXV,  p.  1112  ;  Peirce,  Life  of  Sumner,  Vol. 
m,  p.  297. 

In  a  public  speech  made  in  1850  Mr.  Garrison  had  this  to  say,  "  Who  are 
among  our  ablest  speakers  ?  Who  are  the  best  qualified  to  address  the  public 
mind  on  the  subject  of  slavery  ?  Your  fugitive  slaves,  —  your  Douglasses, 
Browns  and  Bibbs,  —  who  are  astonishing  aU  with  the  cogency  of  their  words 
and  the  power  of  their  reasoning."    Life  of  Garrison,  Vol.  HI,  p.  311. 


to  secure  the  repeal  of  the  obnoxious  law,  efforts  repeated  in 
July,  1854,  and  February,  1855,  and  carried  by  him  to  a 
successful  issue  in  1864.^ 

The  action  of  public  sentiment  in  the  Northern  states, 
which,  he  said,  palsied  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law,  was  accom- 
panied, during  the  decade  from  1850  to  1860,  by  tokens  of 
open  violation  of  the  law,  defiant  resolutions  adopted  by  mass- 
meetings,  and  obstructional  legislation  passed  by  various  free 
states ;  the  spirit  of  nullification  was  thus  aroused  in  many 
localities  north  of  Mason  and  Dixon's  line.  The  demands  of 
character  and  humanity  had  long  been  obeyed  by  many  men 
and  women  for  whom  any  compromise  involving  the  continu- 
ance in  slavery  of  their  fellow-men  was  a  dreadful  crime. 
These  persons  had  refused  to  yield  obedience  to  that  statute 
which  in  their  belief  was  subversive  of  the  "higher  law." 
Under  the  action  of  causes  that  have  been  discussed  in 
earlier  chapters,  the  sentiment  that  had  developed  the  secret 
and  illicit  traffic  along  numerous  lines  of  the  Underground 
Railroad  became  more  obtrusive  and  less  regardful  of  con- 
gressional legislation.  Besides  participating  in  the  pubhc 
and  legitimate  activities  of  anti-slavery  societies,  and  sharing 
in  the  organization  of  the  Liberty  and  Free  Soil  parties,  the 
abolitionists  formed  vigilance  committees  in  various  communi- 
ties, the  avowed  purpose  of  which  was  to  thwart  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Act;  and  while  these  bodies  held  their  meetings  in 
secret  and  guarded  the  names  of  their  members,  it  was  often 
a  matter  of  common  report  in  those  localities  that  certain 
well-known  men  of  the  neighborhood  were  active  members. 
It  was  the  Vigilance  Committee  of  Syracuse  that  rescued 
Jerry  McHenry  from  custody  of  the  officers,  in  the  presence 
of  a  great  crowd ;  and  the  leaders  in  the  affair,  Gerrit  Smith, 
Charles  A.  Wheaton  and  Samuel  J.  May,  far  from  seeking 
oblivion,  published  an  acknowledgment  in  the  newspapers 
that  they  had  aided  all  they  could  in  the  rescue  of  Jerry, 
were  ready  for  trial,  and  would  rest  their  defence  on  the 
"  unconstitutionality  and  extreme  wickedness  "  of  the  Fugi- 
tive Slave  Law.    None  of  these  men  were  tried.    The  citizens 


1  Peirce,  Life  of  Sumner,  Vol.  Ill,  p.  309,  foot-note ;  Vol.  IV,  pp.  71, 175- 



of  Onondaga  County  held  a  mass-convention  in  approval  of 
the  liberation  of  the  negro,  and  unanimously  adopted  resolu- 
tions justifying  and  applauding  the  act.^ 

From  this  time  on  till  the  outbreak  of  the  Civil  War  bold 
and  open  opposition  to  the  authority  of  the  federal  law  is  a 
purpose  not  to  be  mistaken  or  overlooked.  The  state  reports 
of  the  Pennsylvania  and  Massachusetts  Anti-Slavery  societies 
boasted  of  the  steadily  increasing  numbers  of  fugitives  aided 
by  abolitionists  at  many  centres,  and  heaped  reproaches  on 
the  judges  and  commissioners  that  gave  decisions  adverse  to 
runaways.^  Fugitive  slave  cases  were  stubbornly  contested 
in  the  courts  on  the  ground  that  the  law  of  1850  was  uncon- 
stitutional. The  series  of  cases  in  which  the  law  was  sub- 
jected to  the  penetrating  criticism  of  some  of  the  ablest 
lawyers  in  the  country  is  a  long  and  interesting  one ;  nothing 
in  the  history  of  the  times  more  clearly  shows  the  effect  of 
the  Underground  Railroad  in  rousing  ever-widening  indigna- 
tion at  the  hunt  for  fugitives.^ 

In  the  spring  of  1854  two  cases,  one  in  Wisconsin  and  the 
other  in  Massachusetts,  served  to  show  the  pitch  to  which 
the  spirit  of  resistance  among  the  most  responsible  citizens 
could  rise  in  both  the  West  and  the  East.  On  March  10, 
1854,  Joshua  Glover,  who  was  living  near  Racine,  Wisconsin, 
was  arrested  as  a  fugitive  slave  by  United  States  deputy 
marshals  and  the  claimant,  B.  W.  Garland,  of  St.  Louis. 
After  a  severe  struggle  Glover  was  knocked  down,  placed  in 
a  wagon,  driven  to  Milwaukee,  and  there  lodged  in  jail. 
The  news  of  the  capture  reached  Racine  in  a  few  hours,  and 
a  popular  meeting,  larger  than  ever  before  held  in  the  town, 
assembled  on  the  court-house  square  to  take  action.  At  this 
meeting  it  was  resolved  to  secure  Glover  a  fair  trial  in  Wis- 
consin; and  it  was  voted,  "That  inasmuch  as  the  Senate  of 
the  United  States  has  repealed  all  compromises  adopted  by 
the  Congress  of  the  United  States,*  we,  as  citizens  of  Wis- 

'  S.  J.  May,  Some  Recollections  of  our  Anti- Slavery  Conflict,  pp.  380,  381. 
Mr.  May  says  another  convention  was  held  ten  days  later  to  condemn  the 
action  of  the  rescuers,  and  did  so,  but  not  without  dissent. 

'  See  the  reports  after  1850.        '  For  selected  cases  see  Appendix  B,  p.  372. 

*  The  Kansas-Nebraska  legislation,  repealing  the  Missouri  Compromise  of 
1820,  which  was  at  this  time  before  Congress,  is  here  referred  to. 


consin,  are  justified  in  declaring,  and  do  declare,  the  slave- 
catching  law  of  1850  disgraceful  and  also  repealed."  This 
was  but  one  of  many  nullifying  resolutions  adopted  about 
this  time  in  various  parts  of  the  North,  although  most  of  the 
resolutions  were  somewhat  less  extreme  in  statement.^ 

At  an  afternoon  meeting  the  deliberations  ended  in  the 
decision  of  about  a  hundred  citizens  of  Racine  to  take  boat  at 
once  for  Milwaukee.  Upon  arrival  this  delegation  found  the 
latter  city  in  an  uproar.  A  meeting  of  five  thousand  persons 
had  already  appointed  a  Committee  of  Vigilance  to  see  that 
Glover  had  a  fair  trial,  and  this  demonstration  had  led  the 
authorities  to  call  for  the  local  militia  to  preserve  order ;  but 
the  militia  did  not  appear.  Such  was  now  the  temper  of  the 
crowd  that  it  could  be  satisfied  with  nothing  less  than  the 
immediate  release  of  the  prisoner.  Glover  was  therefore 
demanded,  but,  as  he  was  not  forthcoming,  the  jail  door  was 
battered  in,  the  negro  brought  out,  placed  in  a  wagon  and 
forwarded  to  Canada  by  the  Underground  Railroad.  The 
act  of  the  rescuers  was  indorsed  by  the  public  sentiment  of 
the  state ;  with  but  few  exceptions  justified  by  the  news- 
papers. Among  the  resolutions  passed  by  mass-meetings 
held  to  take  action  against  the  Kansas-Nebraska  bill,  then 
pending  in  Congress,  there  was  usually  one  thanking  the 
rescuers  for  their  conduct. 

Remembering  with  satisfaction  the  deliverance  of  Jerry,  a 
special  convention  assembled  at  Syracuse,  New  York,  on 
March  22,  1854,  and  sent  a  congratulatory  message  to  Mil- 
waukee and  Racine,  offering  to  join  them  and  all  the  sister 
cities  of  the  North  in  a  "  holy  confederacy,  which  .  .  . 
shall  swear  that  no  broken-hearted  fugitive  shall  ever  again 
be  consigned  to  slavery  from  the  North,  under  the  accursed 
act  of  1850."  A  state  convention  met  at  Milwaukee,  April 
13  and  14,  which  was  attended  by  delegates  from  all  the 
populated  districts.  This  assembly  adopted  a  number  of 
resolutions,  several  of  which  were  quotations  from  the  Vir- 
ginia and  Kentucky  resolutions,  including  the  famous  one 

1  Vroman  Mason  on  "The  Fugitive  Slave  Law  in  Wisconsin,  with  Refer- 
ence to  Nullification  Sentiment,"  in  the  Proceedings  of  the  State  Historical 
Society  of  Wisconsin,  1895,  pp.  122,  123. 


declaring  "  that,  as  in  other  cases  of  compact  among  parties 
having  no  common  judge,  each  party  has  an  equal  right  to 
judge  for  itself,  as  well  of  infractions,  as  of  the  mode  and 
measure  of  redress."  The  Fugitive  Slave  Law  was  pro- 
nounced unconstitutional,  and  aid  was  promised  the  rescuers 
of  Glover. 

It  is  interesting  to  note  that  at  this  convention  a  state 
league  was  also  formed,  which  has  been  called  a  forerunner 
of  the  Republican  party  in  Wisconsin. 

The  Supreme  Court  of  the  state  was  soon  given  an  oppor- 
tunity to  place  itself  on  record  with  regard  to  the  validity 
of  the  federal  law.  The  case  of  one  of  the  rescuers,  Sherman 
M.  Booth,  came  before  it  for  decision.  In  passing  judgment 
the  court  showed  itself  to  be  in  line  with  the  sentiment 
of  the  state,  for  it  declared  the  act  of  1850  unconstitutional ; 
the  principal  grounds  assigned  were  the  absence  of  congres- 
sional power  to  legislate  on  the  subject  of  the  surrender 
of  fugitives  from  labor,  the  improper  conferring  of  judicial 
authority  upon  commissioners,  and  the  viciousness  of  depriv- 
ing a  person  of  his  liberty  'without  due  process  of  law.' 
Booth  was,  of  course,  discharged.  But  the  matter  was  not 
dropped  here.  The  United  States  District  Court  now  ob- 
tained jurisdiction  of  the  case ;  the  jury  found  the  prisoner 
guilty,  and  the  judge  sentenced  him  to  imprisonment  for 
one  month,  and  to  pay  a  fine  of  |1,000  and  the  costs  of 
prosecution  —  in  all,  $1,451.  The  news  of  the  conviction 
caused  great  excitement ;  denunciatory  meetings  were  again 
the  order  of  the  day;  and  money  was  subscribed  for  the 
further  defence  of  the  prisoners.  Some  of  the  resolutions 
passed  at  this  time  did  not  stop  short  of  asserting  the  readi- 
ness of  the  people  to  maintain  their  cause  with  the  bayonet. 
Application  was  made  to  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  state  for 
a  writ  of  habeas  corpus,  and  Booth,  together  with  a  col- 
league, Rycraft,  was  again  released. 

The  controversy  now  came  before  the  Supreme  Court  at 
Washington,  and  on  petition  of  the  Attorney-General  a  writ 
of  error  was  granted  by  that  tribunal  to  be  served  on  the 
Supreme  Court  of  Wisconsin.  The  state  court,  however, 
refused  to  obey  this  writ.      At  length,  on  March  6,  1857, 


the  United  States  Supreme  Court  assumed  jurisdiction,  in 
an  unusual  way,  acting  on  the  basis  of  a  certified  copy  of 
proceedings,  which  did  not  appear  upon  the  official  record. 
At  the  December  term,  1858,  the  judgment  of  the  Supreme 
Court  of  Wisconsin  was  reversed,  and  that  court  was  directed 
to  return  Booth  into  federal  custody.  Again  the  state  court 
would  not  yield  obedience.  Booth  was  therefore  rearrested 
by  the  United  States  marshal,  March  1,  1860,  and  was  con- 
fined in  the  custom-house  at  Milwaukee.  The  friends  of 
the  prisoner  once  more  applied  to  the  state  Supreme  Court 
for  a  writ  of  habeas  corpus,  but,  failing  to  get  it  on  account 
of  a  change  in  the  personnel  of  the  court,  they  did  not  rest 
until  they  had  rescued  him  from  the  government  prison  five 
months  later.  On  October  8  Booth  was  again  arrested,  and 
this  time  he  remained  in  prison  until,  under  the  pressure 
brought  to  bear  upon  President  Buchanan,  he  was  pardoned 
just  before  Lincoln's  inauguration.^ 

Notwithstanding  the  obstinacy  of  the  highest  state  court 
in  refusing  to  carry  out  the  commands  of  the  highest  United 
States  court,  the  decision  rendered  by  the  latter  in  Booth's 
case  was  of  great  importance.  It  clearly  defined  for  the 
first  time  the  limits  of  state  authority  and  disclosed  the 
powerlessness  of  state  courts  to  override  the  jurisdiction 
granted  to  the  federal  courts  by  the  Constitution  of  the 
United  States. 

The  people  of  Wisconsin,  however,  were  unwilling  to 
recognize  this  fact.  Having  enacted  a  personal  liberty  law 
in  1857,  they  made  Byron  Paine,  a  young  lawyer,  who  bad 
taken  a  prominent  part  in  the  defence  of  Booth,  their  candi- 
date in  1859  for  associate  justice  of  the  Supreme  Court,  and 
elected  him  on  a  combined  anti-slavery  and  state  rights  issue. 
Thus  the  state  maintained  its  ground  until  the  eve  of  the 
Civil  War.  Then  it  relinquished  it  to  assist  in  coercing 
South  Carolina  and  other  Southern  states  from  their  seces- 
sion, the  right  of  which  these  states  defended  by  the  same 
doctrine  of  state  sovereignty .^ 

1  Atileman  vs.  Booth  ;  for  references  see  Appendix  B,  62,  Glover  rescue 
case,  p.  374. 

2  This  account  of  Booth's  case  is  in  the  main  a  condensation  of  the  excel- 


The  Glover  rescue  occurred  while  the  Kansas-Nebraska 
Act  was  pending  in  Congress.  The  attempted  rescue  of 
Burns  came  just  after  this  piece  of  legislation,  already  passed 
by  the  Senate,  had  been  voted  by  the  House.  This  measure, 
which  set  aside  the  Missouri  Compromise  prohibiting  slavery 
from  all  the  Louisiana  territory  lying  north  of  36°  30'  north 
latitude,  except  that  included  within  the  State  of  Missouri, 
deeply  stirred  public  feeling  in  the  free  states :  thus  the 
violence  of  the  demonstrations  in  the  Booth  and  Burns  cases 
was  in  some  measure  a  protest  against  Douglas  legislation. 
Burns  was  arrested  in  Boston  on  May  24,  1854,  under 
a  warrant  granted  by  the  United  States  commissioner.  He 
felt  his  case  to  be  hopeless,  and  so  told  Richard  H.  Dana,  Jr., 
and  Theodore  Parker;  but  they  urged  him  to  make  a  de- 
fence, and  prevailed  on  the  commissioner  to  postpone  the 
hearing.  Boston  was  soon  ablaze  with  indignation  kindled 
in  part  by  the  inflammatory  handbills  scattered  broadcast  by 
members  of  the  Vigilance  Committee.  These  handbills  con- 
tained invectives  against  the  "kidnapper,"  and  expressed 
a  sentiment  prevalent  in  New  England,  as  in  other  parts  of 
the  North,  when  they  declared  "the  compromises  trampled 
upon  by  the  slave  power  when  in  the  path  of  slavery  are 
to  be  crammed  down  the  throat  of  the  North." 

In  response  to  messages  from  the  Vigilance  Committee 
Thomas  Wentworth  Higginson,  A.  Bronson  Alcott  and 
others  hurried  to  Boston  to  consult  with  the  leaders  there 
on  what  was  best  to  be  done.  A  mass-meeting  had  been 
called  for  Friday  evening,  the  26th,  to  be  held  in  Faneuil  Hall, 
and  it  was  now  planned  to  make  an  attack,  at  the  height  of 
this  meeting,  on  the  court-house,  where  Burns  was  in  dur- 
ance, and  "  send  the  whole  meeting  pell-mell  to  Court  Square, 
ready  to  fall  in  behind  the  leaders  and  bring  out  the  slave." 

lent  and  exhaustive  discussion  given  by  Mr.  Vroman  Mason  in  the  Proceed- 
ings of  the  State  Sistorical  Society,  1895,  pp.  117-144.  Other  material  will 
be  found  in  The  Story  of  Wisconsin,  1890,  by  R.  G.  Thwaites,  pp.  247-254  ; 
A  Complete  Beeord  of  the  John  Olin  Family,  1893,  by  C.  C.  Olin,  pp.  liii- 
bmv;  the  Liberator,  April  7  and  24,  1854;  3  Wisconsin  Beports,  pp.  1-64; 
21  Howard's  Beports,  p.  606  et  seq. ;  Wilson,  Bise  and  Fall  of  the  Slave 
Power,  Vol.  II,  pp.  444-446. 


The  city  was  in  a  state  of  wild  excitement  when  the  time  for 
action  came,  and  it  was  natural  that  in  the  confusion  existing 
some  of  the  arrangements  should  miscarry.  The  crowd 
that  filled  Faneuil  Hall  was  so  dense  as  to  cut  off  all  com- 
munication with  the  speakers  on  the  platform,  and  prevented 
concerted  action.  When,  under  the  impassioned  oratory  of 
Phillips,  Parker  and  others,  the  audience  had  given  evidences 
of  its  readiness  to  undertake  the  rescue,  the  announcement 
that  an  attack  upon  the  court-house  was  about  to  begin  was 
made  from  the  rear  of  the  hall,  and  it  was  proposed  that  the 
meeting  should  adjourn  to  Court  Square.  Phillips  had  not 
received  notice  of  the  project,  and  the  other  speakers  had  not 
fully  comprehended  it.  The  alarm  was  thought  to  be  a  scheme 
to  break  up  the  meeting  and  was  not  followed  by  the  decisive 
action  necessary  to  success. 

Arriving  at  the  court-house  the  crowd  found  a  small  party 
under  the  lead  of  Higginson,  Stowell  and  a  negro  battering  in 
a  door  with  a  stick  of  timber.  Entrance  was  gained  by  a  few 
only,  —  who  found  themselves  in  the  hands  of  the  police,  — 
while  the  concourse  outside  was  daunted  at  the  outset  by  the 
mysterious  killing  of  one  of  the  marshal's  deputies.  The 
arrest  of  several  of  Higginson's  companions  followed,  and  a 
renewal  of  the  assault,  if  there  was  any  danger  of  such  a  thing, 
was  prevented  by  the  approach  of  two  companies  of  artillery 
and  two  more  of  marines  ordered  out  by  the  mayor  to  pre- 
serve the  peace.  Troops  were  retained  at  the  court-house 
during  the  examination  of  Burns,  and  it  is  reported  by  an  eye- 
witness that  the  seat  of  justice  "  had  the  air  of  a  beleaguered 
fortress."  On  the  2d  of  June  Commissioner  Loring  remanded 
the  fugitive  to  slavery. 

The  presence  in  Boston  of  a  multitude  of  visitors  attracted 
thither  by  the  annual  meeting  of  the  New  England  Anti- 
Slavery  Society,  the  state  convention  of  the  Free  Soil  party, 
and  the  spring  meetings  of  the  religious  bodies,  as  well  as  by 
the  arrest  of  the  negro,  led  the  authorities  to  take  all  precau- 
tions to  forestall  any  fresh  attempt  at  rescue  when  the  fugi- 
tive should  be  sent  out  of  the  city.  Accordingly,  over  a 
thousand  soldiers  with  loaded  muskets,  and  furnished  with 
a  cannon  loaded  with  grape-shot,  were  detailed  to  assist  the 


city  police  and  a  large  number  of  deputy  marshals  to  carry 
out  the  law.  In  the  procession  that  accompanied  Burns  to 
the  United  States  revenue  cutter,  by  which  he  was  to  be 
carried  back  to  Virginia,  there  were  four  platoons  of  marines 
and  a  battalion  of  artillery,  besides  the  marshal's  civil  posse 
of  one  hundred  and  twenty-five  men.  Fifty  thousand  people 
lined  the  streets  along  which  this  procession  passed,  and 
greeted  it  with  hisses  and  groans,  while  over  their  heads  were 
displayed  many  emblems  of  mourning  and  shame.  It  is  little 
wonder  that  the  Enquirer  of  Richmond,  Virginia,  commenting 
with  satisfaction  on  the  rendition  of  Burns,  was  led  to  add, 
"but  a  few  more  such  victories  and  the  South  is  undone."* 
Such  was  the  state  of  public  opinion  in  Massachusetts  that 
the  Board  of  Overseers  of  Harvard  College  declined  to  con- 
firm the  election  of  Commissioner  Loring  as  a  member  of  the 
Harvard  faculty;  and  the  people  petitioned,  until  their  re- 
quest was  granted,  for  his  removal  from  the  office  of  judge  of 

Similar  hostility  to  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  existed  in  Illi- 
nois. John  Reynolds,  who  had  been  governor  of  the  state, 
wrote  about  1855  that  when  President  Jackson  issued  his 
proclamation  in  December,  1832,  condemning  nullification  in 
South  Carolina,  the  legislature  of  Illinois  hailed  it  with  grati- 
fication and  pledged  the  state  to  sustain  the  executive  in  his 
purpose  to  enforce  the  federal  laws  at  all  hazards.  Jackson's 
proclamation,  he  said,  had  a  strong  tendency  to  suppress 
the  spirit  of  nullification  throughout  the  Union.  The  law  of 
1850  had  been  framed  in  pursuance  of  the  Constitution,  and 
was  hailed  as  the  foundation  of  sectional  peace  and  happiness, 
but  "  within  a  few  years,  a  section  of  the  State  of  Illinois,  the 
city  of  Chicago,  is  not  disposed  to  execute  this  act  of  Con- 
gress. The  opposition  in  Illinois  to  this  law  is  not  extensive, 
but  confined  to  a  single  city,  so  far  as  I  know.  Yet  in  that 
disaffected  district  the  act  is  a  dead  letter.  .  .  ."^  The 
number  of  centres  in  Illinois  in  which  the  act  was  disapproved 

1  T.  W.  Higginson  in  The  Atlantic  Monthly,  for  March,  1897,  p.  349-354  ; 
Rhodes,  History  of  the  United  States,  Vol.  I,  pp.  500-506  ;  Wilson,  Bise  and 
Fall  of  the  Slave  Power,  Vol.  II,  pp.  434,  444. 

2  John  Reynolds'  History  of  Illinois,  1855,  pp.  269-271. 


and  violated  was  far  beyond  the  knowledge  of  ex-Governor 
'  In  Ohio  incidents  arising  out  of  the  operations  of  the 
Underground  Railroad  became  the  occasions  for  serious  con- 
tests between  the  state  and  federal  authorities.  On  May  16, 
1857,  the  United  States  deputy  marshal  for  southern  Ohio, 
with  nine  assistants,  entered  the  house  of  Udney  Hyde,  near 
Mechanicsburg,  Champaign  County,  in  pursuit  of  a  fugitive 
slave.  The  approach  of  the  posse  had  been  observed  by  the 
negro,  who  took  refuge  in  Hyde's  garret.  Some  firing  was 
done  by  both  the  negro  and  the  marshal,  with  the  result  that 
the  officer  and  his  party  were  glad  to  take  their  positions 
outside  of  the  house.  Here  they  were  soon  found  by  a  crowd 
of  citizens  from  the  neighboring  town,  whose  sympathies  were 
so  unmistakably  with  the  fugitive  that  the  pursuers  decided 
to  leave  without  delay.  Returni